Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 2)

Last week, in part 1 of this series, I discussed the surname variations for FOURNELLE, gave a short history of the village of Saulnes (France), and explained where the records for the family of interest were found.

Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702) of Saulnes in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department of France were my 7th great-grandparents. They are presently the most distant ancestral couple for the FOURNEL/FOURNELLE branch of my family tree.

As noted in the short history of Saulnes, the village was uninhabited in 1646. In 1698, fifty years after the end of The Thirty Years’ War, 8 farmers, 13 skilled workers, and 4 widows lived in Saulnes’ 25 houses and 11 hovels.1 The information came from a report of the general condition of the provost of Longwy made in the year 1698 for Saulnes (état générale de la prévôté de Longwy fait en 1698). This list includes the names of the farmers: Drouet, Arnoult, Thomas, Magnier, Istase, André, and La Fontaine (2). Jean Henrion was the only skilled worker named.2 It would appear that the FOURNEL family was not farming in the late 1600s and Jean FOURNEL may have been a skilled worker.

The population of Saulnes during the period Jean and Catherine lived there plays an important part in the research concerning their children. They were the only couple having children with the FOURNEL surname in Saulnes during the years from 1678 to 1702.

Proving the children of Jean FOURNEL (1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (1657-1702)

To be recognized as a legally married couple on their children’s baptismal records, Jean and Catherine had to have been married before the birth of their first known child. This would place their marriage at about 1677 when Jean was 22 and Catherine 20. Their ages have been estimated from the age given at the time of their deaths. Marriage records for this period are lacking in Herserange. The records of the children, mentioning their parents as a couple will have to suffice as evidence that they were married.

The Herserange collection of records used to document this family group covered the years from 1668 to 1773. The circa 10 years before the marriage of Jean and Catherine were reviewed several times in hopes of finding other records mentioning them separately and/or as a couple. Miscellaneous records for other persons with the FOURNELLE surname or associated with the surname were found and will be discussed in Part 3. No records were found for any other person with the surname SETON.

When the pages of church register for Hesperange were digitized they were fragile and not in very good condition. Many of the old pages were missing parts along the edges. This resulted in incomplete records.

These are the children I found for Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON:

          1. Françoise baptized 18 March 1678
          2. Nicolas baptized 30 September  1683
          3. Jean baptized 9 May 1686
          4. Henri baptized 2 June 1688
          5. Jeanne born before 1691
          6. Sébastienne born about 1692
          7. Marie baptized 9 June 1696
          8. Jacques born about 1699

Five of the eight children’s baptismal records were found in the church records of Herserange from 1678 to 1688. Baptismal records are missing for the years from 1689 to 1693, a period when two of the children were born. Although records are available from 1694 to the time the youngest child is believed to have been born, no baptismal record was found.

The Eight FOURNEL Children

Françoise baptized 18 March 1678
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 19 de 529

Jean FOURNELLE and Catherine SETON’s first known child was Françoise baptized on 18 March 1678 in Saulnes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. They are clearly named as her parents in this record. Her godfather was Guillaume DASSIS. Her godmother was a lady named Françoise – her surname was cut off on the right side as the edges of the page have deteriorated.3

Françoise married Jean “Le Fleur” COURTOIS (1684-1745) on 23 January 1708 in Saulnes. The marriage record includes the names of her parents.4

Françoise died on 13 October 1729 in Saulnes. Her husband gave her age as 45 years although she was actually six years older.5

Nicolas baptized 30 September 1683
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 28 de 529

The baptismal record of the second child of Jean and Catherine is missing information.

On the last day of September 1683 in Saulnes, a child [name is missing] was born to [first name missing] FOURNELLE and Catherine SETON and baptized. The verb baptizé is masculine and confirms the child was male. The godfather was [first name missing] BOUILLON and the godmother was Margueritte [illegible maiden name] [one or more missing words] COURTOIS.6

As the husband of Catherine SETON is known to have been Jean FOURNEL it can be assumed that the father’s missing name was Jean. The godmother Margueritte was most likely the wife of Bernard COURTOIS, the only Courtois with a wife named Margueritte at this time. Her maiden name was EVRARD per their 1740 death records.7,8

As the baptismal record is for a male child, he would have the same name as his godfather. Other records have been found that indicate Nicolas FOURNEL was the oldest known son of Jean and Catherine. A Nicolas BOUILLON was in Saulnes at this time. He witnessed the death entry of his wife Jeanne PIERON on 11 January 1694 in Saulnes.9 As no other baptismal record was found for a son named Nicolas, I find it very likely that Nicolas was the name of the child baptized on 30 September 1683.

Nicolas was the godfather Marie, daughter of Jean DROUET and Jeanne REMY, baptized on 3 October 1707 in Saulnes.10 He was described as un jeune garçon or a young boy or man meaning he was not yet married. His surname was spelled FOURNY.

Nicolas married Barbe AGARANT (1680-1758) on 29 June 1710 in Réhon, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France. As in the baptismal record mentioned above, he was described as un jeune garçon de Sosne, paroissien de Herserange or young boy of Saulnes, a parishioner of Herserange. His surname was spelled FOURNIER. Barbe was the widow of Jean François BERNARDIN.11 The entry in the Réhon parish record does not name Nicolas’ parents however we can assume they were Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON as they were the only couple in Saulnes of this surname and with children of marrying age.

Nicolas and his family lived in Hussigny, a town whose records are lacking for the period he would have been having children up until the death of his wife in 1758.

Several more records were found that connect Nicolas to the Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON family. They will be discussed later in this post.

Jean baptized 9 May 1686
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 42 de 529

Jean was baptized on 9 May 1686 in Saulnes. His godparents were Jean QUERIN and Marie Madeleine [illegible]. His parents’ names were Jean FOURNIER and Catherine. Space was left on the record for the maiden name of his mother but never filled in.12

Jean married Jeanne BERKIN (1683-1759) on 22 January 1713 in Rodange, Luxembourg. His father Jean FOURNEL was present at the marriage. His older brother Nicolas was a witness at the marriage.13

Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN were my 6th great-grandparents.

Henri baptized 2 June 1688
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 55 de 529

Henri was baptized on 2 June 1688 in Saulnes. His godparents were Henry LOUIS and Barbe DROUET. His parents were listed as Jean FOURNIER and his wife. As with Jean’s baptismal record, space was left for the mother’s name but not filled in.14

Henri FOURNEL married Anne LAUNOIS. A marriage record has not been located. She was named as his wife in his death record when he died on 6 August 1753 in Saulnes. The record was witnessed by his son Henri and his brother Jacques.15

Several marriage records of sons of Henri and Anne were found. They name them as a couple and parents of the children. They will be cited in the section on Henri’s brother Jacques.

Jeanne born before 1691

A baptismal record was not found for Jeanne who was born before 1691.

Jeanne FOURNEL was the godmother of Jean COURTOIS, son of Françoise FOURNEL and Jean COURTOIS, who was baptized on 14 October 1708.16

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 234 de 529

She was also the godmother of his brother Jacques baptized on 4 February 1717.17 In this record, Jeanne was clearly named as the aunt of the child proving she was the sister of Françoise, i.e. the oldest daughter of Jean and Catherine.

Jeanne FOURNEL married Jérôme PETRISOT ( -1734) on 28 July 1720 in Obercorn, Luxembourg. She was a young lady from Saulnes and the names of her parents are not mentioned.18 Their first child was born on 20 August 1721. She was named Maria Catharina for her godmother Marie Catherine FOURNEL.19

Jeanne was still living on 6 September 1734 when she and her husband acquired property (a hovel, a garden, etc.) from Jean FOURNIER, Nicolas FOURNIER, Jean COURTOIS (representing the children of the deceased Françoise FOURNIER), and Jacques FOURNIER. The notarial records for this transaction have not been viewed.20

Sébastienne born about 1692

Sébastienne was born about 1692. No baptismal record was found due to missing records.

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 178 de 529

On 24 November 1720, she married the widower Jean FRANÇOIS (1692-1741) in Saulnes. Witnesses to the marriage were Jean FOURNEL and Jacques FOURNEL, both referred to as her brothers. She is described as a young lady from Saulnes and her parents are not named.21 As she was the sister of Jean and Jacques (younger brother seen below) we can assume she was the daughter of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON.

Sébastienne FOURNELLE died on 29 December 1752 in Saulnes at the age of about 60 years. This record was used to calculate her year of birth.22

Marie baptized 9 June 1696
Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 365 de 529

On 9 June 1696 in Saulnes, a child Marie was baptized in the presence of her godfather Jean HEINS of Hussigny and her godmother Marie LEJEUNE of Aix. Her parents’ names were Jean FOURNY and Catherine SETON.23

Marie FOURNEL was the godmother of her sister Sébastienne’s illegitimate son Jean CHOLOT who was baptized on 9 December 1713 in Saulnes.24

Jacques born about 1699

Jacques, the youngest known child of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON, was born about 1699. His estimated year of birth has been calculated from his age at death. This places his birth before the death of Catherine SETON who died in 1702.

Jacques most likely married in Hussigny where he lived his adult life. As mentioned earlier in this post, Hussigny is lacking records for the years between 1716-1765 with only 1753-1756 and 1758 being available. Even without the Hussigny records, the youngest son of Jean and Catherine produced more records than any of his siblings that show his connection to them and therefore to their parents.

Jacques FOURNEL was the godfather of his nephew Jacques COURTOIS, son of Jean COURTOIS and Françoise FOURNEL, baptized on 4 February 1717 in Saulnes. He and his sister Jeanne were the godparents and referred to as the uncle and aunt.[See footnote #17 and image 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 234 de 529]

When Sébastienne married Jean FRANCOIS in 1720, Jacques and Jean FOURNEL were witnesses and referred to as brothers of the bride.[See footnote #21 and image 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 178 de 529]

Jacques married Marie JACOB most likely in Hussigny before 1724. The 1758 death record of Marie JACOB names Jacques as her husband.25

On 18 January 1743 Jacques FOURNEL of Hussigny was a witness to the marriage of his niece Jeanne FOURNEL to Henry DE CHAIVE. Jeanne was the daughter of Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN. Jacques was referred to as the uncle of the bride.26

Jacques was a witness at the marriages of two of his nephews, sons of Henri FOURNEL and his wife Anne LAUNOIS. On 26 February 1756 their son Henri married Marie Claire BOULANGER in the presence of Jacques FOURNEL uncle of the groom and others.27

On 8 February 1763 their son Dominique married Marie COMES in the presence of witnesses that included Jacques FOURNEL of Hussigny.28

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 3 vue 60 de 328

Dominique was widowed and married again on 28 December 1765 to Barbe SCHMIT. Jacques, his uncle from Hussigny, was a witness.29

Jacques died at the age of 75 years on 9 December 1774 in Hussigny and was buried the following day in the presence of parishioners including his nephew Henri FOURNEL (son of Henri and Anne) and his grandson Charles LIBERT (son of his daughter Marguerite).30

A ninth child for Jean and Catherine?

Two baptismal records were found that name Marie Catherine FOURNEL as a godmother in 1721. On 20 August 1721 Maria Catharina PETRISOT, daughter of Jérôme PETRISOT and Jeanne FOURNEL, was baptized in Obercorn. Her godmother was Maria Catharina FURNIER of Saulnes. The child’s mother’s maiden name was also spelled FURNIER.31

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 184 de 529

Two months later, Marie Catherine FRANÇOIS, daughter of Jean FRANÇOIS and Sébastienne FOURNEL was baptized in Saulnes. Her godmother was Marie Catherine FOURNEL described as her aunt.32

Was Marie Catherine the same person as Marie born in 1696?

No records have been found for the marriage or death of Marie FOURNEL or Marie Catherine FOURNEL. No baptismal record was found for a child named Marie Catherine FOURNEL. As I reviewed the records while writing about the children, I wondered if those found are for two separate persons. Should I enter Marie Catherine as a ninth child of my 7th great-grandparents? Could she have been born after Jacques and before the death of the children’s mother?

The Deaths of Jean FOURNEL and his wife Catherine SETON

Catherine SETON the wife of Jean FOURNEL died on 21 September 1702 in Saulnes of an unknown illness at the age of about 45 years. Was this following childbirth? Her husband Jean arranged the funeral and solemn services for three consecutive days for her soul to rest. He signed her death and burial entry in the parish record with his mark.33

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 333 de 529

When my 6th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN married in 1713, the elder Jean FOURNEL was present at the marriage and signed the parish register with the same mark as in 1702 when his wife died.[See footnote #13]

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 266 de 529

Jean also signed with his mark on the 1708 marriage record of his oldest child Françoise.[See footnote #4]

Image courtesy of Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), 5 Mi 259/R 1 vue 300 de 529

Jean FOURNEL outlived his wife Catherine by a few days less than 19 years. He died on 3 September 1721 in Saulnes. His two oldest sons Nicolas and Jean arranged for the funeral and solemn services for three consecutive days so that his soul would rest in peace.34

Did Jean FOURNEL’s mark have a special significance to him, his family, his occupation? Did anyone else in Saulnes or in the area use the same sign? These questions will be brought up again in part 3 of this series.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Histoire de Saulnes, online https://www.saulnes.fr/saulnes-historique/histoire-de-saulnes/ : accessed 10 July 2020. 
  2. Catherine Goncalves, Bernard Batrthélémy, René Bréden, Aimé Tarnus, Familles de Saulnes de 1668 à 1920 (three volumes) published by the Cercle Généalogique du Pays de Longwy, p. 9. 
  3. Archives départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), browsable images of microfilm collection of parish and civil records (online http://www.archives.cg54.fr/), Herserange > 1668-1773 > 5 Mi 259/R 1 > Herserange B. (1668-1688, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), M. (1684-1686, 1688-1692, 1694-1742, 1745-1746), S. (1676-1679, 1681-1689, 1694-1742, 1745-1773) image 19 of 529 . New terms of use: En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation. 1678 Fournel, Françoise baptismal record (middle of right page under Sosne).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075b0db : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  4. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 300 of 529 . 1708 Courtois, Jean and Fournel, Françoise marriage record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380814b5d : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  5. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 114 of 529 . 1729 Françoise Fournel death record (age about 45 years) (left page, 3rd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380788d8e : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  6. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 28 of 529. 1683 Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in very bad condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  7. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 79 of 529. 1740 Death Record (left page, first entry).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538077740c : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  8. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 79 of 529. 1740 Death Record (right page, first entry).(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538077740c : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  9. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 28 of 529. 1683 Baptismal Record (right page, 5th entry). This document is in very bad condition. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538075f780 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  10. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 311 of 529. 1707 Baptismal Record of Marie Drouet, godfather Nicolas Fourny. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538081d08c : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  11. Ibid., Réhon B., M. (1710, 1714-1715, 1733-1792), S. (1714-1715, 1733-1791) 1710-1792 > 5 Mi 450/R 2 image 373 of 767. 1710 Marriage Record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10eca1233/54b0f2e7a367b : accessed 7 Augut 2020). 
  12. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 42 of 529. 1686 Baptismal Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380766086 : accessed 10 July 2020). 
  13. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 266 of 529 . 1713 Jean Fournel and Jeanne Berkin marriage record (right page, top). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807ed8f7 : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  14. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 55 of 529. 1688 Henri Fournel baptismal record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538076c2be : accessed 2 July 2020). 
  15. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 455 of 529. 1753 Death Record (right page, 1st entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53808948e4 : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  16. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 303 of 529. 1708 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd to last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380816b4f : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  17. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 234 of 529. 1717 Baptismal Record (left page, 1st entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807d29ad : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  18. Luxembourg, registres paroissiaux, 1601-1948 (images), FamilySearch (original records at Luxembourg National Archives, Plateau du Saint-Esprit, Luxembourg), Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 6 of 296. 1720 Marriage Record (left page, 4th entry from bottom). (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WS-9SK3?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  19. Ibid., Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 78 of 296. 1721 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9SCK?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  20. Aimé Tarnus, Histoires des Familles, Hussigny-Godbrange de 1550 à 1900; Tome 2 (2002-Fortier à 4096-Mohy); page 535, family 2029, notary records Meurthe-et-Moselle 23 E 147 Étude Guyot, transférée à Villerupt (1719-1882). 
  21. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 178 of 529. 1720 François, Jean and Fournel, Sébastienne marriage record. (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b09bb : accessed 8 July 2020). 
  22. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 459 of 529. 1752 Death Record (left page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380898021 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  23. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 365 of 529. 1696 Marie Fournel baptismal record (right page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b5380847004 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  24.   Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 274 of 529. 1713 Baptismal Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807f3dc5 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  25. Ibid., Hussigny-Godbrange > 5 Mi 268/R 1 image 38 of 677. 1758 Death Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b010531aec1 : accessed 2 August 2020). 
  26. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 images 197 and 198 of 328. 1743 Marriage Record (part 1)(http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f06e6ad : accessed 9 July 2020) and 1743 Marriage Record (part 2) (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f06f031 : accessed 9 July 2020) 
  27. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 image 123 of 328. 1756 Marriage Record (right page, top entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f040929 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  28. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 image 69 of 328. 1763 Marriage Record (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f0253fe : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  29. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 3 image 60 of 328. 1765 Marriage Record (left page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3ebca/54b536f021335 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  30. Ibid., Hussigny > 5 Mi 268/R 1 image 83 of 677. 1774 Death Record (right page). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea53d8a/54b010532f877 : accessed 2 August 2020). 
  31. Luxembourg Parish Records, Obercorn > Baptêmes 1704-1727, 1746, 1794-1797, 1800-1805, mariages 1795-1797, 1800-1807, sépultures 1794-1797, 1802-1807 > image 78 of 296. 1721 Baptismal Record (right page, 2nd entry).(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9WS-9SCK?cc=2037955&wc=STHZ-N3T%3A1500974001%2C1500974302 : accessed 12 July 2020). 
  32. Archives Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 184 of 529. 1721 Baptismal Record (left page, 2nd entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b4610 : accessed 8 August 2020). 
  33. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 333 of 529. 1702 Catherine Seton death record, age at death about 45 yrs (right page, last entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b538082e2f7 : accessed 7 July 2020). 
  34. Ibid., Herserange > 5 Mi 259/R 1 image 183 of 529. 1721 Death Record (left page, first entry). (http://archivesenligne.archives.cg54.fr/ark:/33175/s0054ad10ea3e74c/54b53807b3cf3 : accessed 7 July 2020). 

Going Back to the Earliest Fournelle Ancestor (Part 1)

The FOURNELLE family has always been one of my favorites to research.

In 2013 I spent nearly a year working exclusively on finding the records for descendants of my 7th great-grandparents Jean FOURNEL (ca. 1655-1721) and Catherine SETON (ca. 1657-1702) of Saulnes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France.

The FOURNELLE line is my maternal grandmother’s paternal line. She carried the name as did her father, his father, their grandfathers, all the way back to…

Variations of the Surname

In the earliest records found, Jean FOURNEL was seen as Jean FOURNELLE in 1678 and 1683 (baptismal records of daughter Françoise and son Nicolas), as Jean FOURNIER in 1686 and 1688 (baptismal records of sons Jean and Henri), and as Jean FOURNY in 1696 (baptismal record of daughter Marie) and 1708 (marriage record of daughter Françoise). At the time of his wife Catherine’s death in 1702 and his own death in 1721, the name was spelled FOURNEL. In the next generations, the name FOURNEL was more frequently seen as FOURNELLE.

Several records dated before 1678 were found for persons in Saulnes with the FOURNELLE, FOURNEL, and FOURNY spelling. Persons who appear to have been related to Jean FOURNEL. Will they take the line back another generation?

The Origin of the Surname

Forneri, Forneris, or Fornero are trade names frequently encountered in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Riviera area. They are of Italian origin, not surprising as, historically, the Comté de Nice (County of Nice) was for a long time Italian rather than French. In short, forni-, forno-, forne- and all their variants originate “in the bakery” as they have a relationship with a “forn” or an oven. This is usually a bread oven but the root word is also seen in Fornès or Fornies, names associated with persons who cared for the lime kilns used to melt metals.

In eastern France, we find Forny and Forney or Fornier working on or having brick ovens. In the Vosges and Ardennes, the Fournaises worked with furnaces or larger ovens. It goes without saying that all “For-” are also found in the form “Four-” as in Fournès, Fourny, Fournier, and in Fournel, Fournelles, Fourniol, for the stove or smaller oven.

Fournillier, Fourniaud, or Fourniaux, depending on the region, include one who comes from the site where there are many furnaces. This would mean that the person may not have directly worked on or with an oven but simply lived in the community.1

A Brief History of Saulnes

The earliest records found for Jean FOURNEL and his wife Catherine SETON show they lived in Saulnes, in today’s Meurthe-et-Moselle department in France. Jean and Catherine, per the age given at the time of their deaths, both were born in the decade following the end of the Thirty Years’ War. This fact, as well as the history of Saulnes, had to be considered in my research.

Saulnes had 29 hearths in 1443, 9 in 1473, 4 in 1495 and 1531, and 12 in 1585. During this early period, households, for the most part, had only one hearth and the numbers likely reflect the number of families living in the village. In 1646 the village of Saulnes was not inhabited. The Thirty Years’ War fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648 resulted in the deaths of over 8 million people.

In 1687, several decades following the war, Saulnes was once again inhabited by 20 people. In 1698, 8 farmers, 13 skilled workers, and 4 widows lived in Saulnes’ 25 houses and 11 hovels. There were 20 households in the village in 1716 and 26 in 1739.

Saulnes, until the last century, was only a modest village of a few houses with no more than 400 inhabitants; the main resources were provided by cultivation, breeding, a few vineyards, and working iron.2

A forge existed in Saulnes in the second half of the 14th century. No records exist to date its erection. However, the forge was enumerated in a census in 1474 with a small blast furnace. It was abandoned in the middle of the 16th century. Did my ancestors live in the area during this period? Did they work the forge and is this how they came to be named FOURNELLE?

Location of the Records

During the years the family of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON lived in Saulnes, the village was identified as Sosnes or Sonne in the church records, and, as seen above, grew from having 20 persons to 26 households.

Nearly all records for this family group were found in the 1668-1773 collection for the commune of Herserange in the Archives of the department of Meurthe-et-Moselle in France. This collection of parish records includes the villages of Herserange, Saulnes, Rodange (today a part of Luxembourg), Mexy, and Longlaville.

The priests who kept the records noted the name of the village the record was created above each entry. This was extremely helpful when skimming through the records. However, I found that due to the newness of the records seven years ago, I missed things that turned up while I was reviewing the records in the last few weeks.

Availability of the Records

In 2013 images from the French archives’ sites were not allowed to be used on the internet or for commercial purposes without written permission. At the time this was not a problem for me as I was using them for my personal research only. I did not know that the following year I would begin blogging and wouldn’t be able to use the images in blog posts.

The visionneuse, or image viewer, didn’t have an option to save a permalink of the image seven years ago. I wrote source citations that included the waypoints (path) to easily locate the record if necessary. This must have been foresight.

The French archives sites have evolved since 2013 and many are now including permalinks. I have over 500 citations for records found in the Meurthe-et-Moselle area that will eventually need to be fixed. In the past few weeks, I’ve been accessing the records, copying the permalinks, and downloading images in JPG format for the FOURNEL-SETON family group. It is slow going as I pay special attention to the other records recorded for the little village of Saulnes – searching for connections missed the first time around. [I’ve acquired new genealogy research skills since 2013 and am still learning.]

Another change on the French archives sites is their terms of use. Before you access the records, you are required to confirm the following:

En application du règlement sur la réutilisation des données publiques adopté par le conseil départemental de Meurthe-et-Moselle (délibération de sa commission permanente n°17, en date du 16 janvier 2017), je m’engage à mentionner la source du document téléchargé (Arch. dép. de Meurthe-et-Moselle, [suivi de la cote complète]), en cas de réutilisation.

In application of the regulation on the re-use of public data adopted by the departmental council of Meurthe-et-Moselle (deliberation of its permanent commission n ° 17, dated January 16, 2017), I undertake to mention the source of the downloaded document (Arch. Dep. De Meurthe-et-Moselle, [followed by the full path]), in the event of re-use.
[Google Translate]

I can now screenshot a record and use it in a blog post as long as I include the full path to the Archives Départementales de Meurthe-et-Moselle. I believe this will be a good learning tool for my readers and a wonderful advertisement for the French archives sites that are more rarely used by non-Europeans.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Jean FOURNEL
Parents: TO BE PROVEN: Nicolas FOURNELLE
Siblings: TO BE PROVEN: Anne and Pierre
Spouse: Catherine SETON
Children: Françoise, Nicolas, Jean, Henri, Jeanne, Sébastienne, Marie Catherine, and Jacques
Whereabouts: Saulnes (Sonne, Sosne), Meurthe-et-Moselle, France
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 7th great-grandfather

1. Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON
2. Jean FOURNEL and Jeanne BERKIN
3. Pierre FOURNELLE and Jeanne NEU
4. Pierre FOURNELLE and Marguerite SCHMIT
5. André FOURNELLE and Marie Catherine PHILIPPART
6. André FOURNELLE and Odile Lucie SCHLOESSER
7. Jean Joseph FOURNELLE and Catharina FRANTZ
8. Marie Marcelle FOURNELLE and Nicolas WILDINGER
9. Living WILDINGER and Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
10. Catherine Ann DEMPSEY and Living MEDER

Now that I’ve covered the surname variations, a short history of Saulnes, and where the records were found, I’ll leave you until next week when I’ll begin to share the story of Jean FOURNEL and Catherine SETON’s family.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Étymologique, Le Mot du Jour posted 20 October 2012; online http://www.etymo-logique.com/le-mot-du-jour/personnalites/forneri-pascal/ : accessed 11 Sep 2013. 
  2. Histoire de Saulnes, online https://www.saulnes.fr/saulnes-historique/histoire-de-saulnes/ : accessed 10 July 2020. 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Milley, Hetty, Nelson, Ben, Bettie, and Dick

Last month I released the names of five enslaved persons found in the 1834 Last Will and Testament of Thomas Hannan of Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia). Thomas had several sons who left wills. One of these was his son Charles who wrote his will twenty-two years after his father on 4 October 1856.1

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

In the name God Amen I Charles Hannan of the County of Mason and State of Virginia Being of Sound Mind and disposing Memory Knowing the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death. In order to dispose of the worldly goods that I have been blessed with Do Make and publish this my last will and testament.
First I comit my Soul to God who gave it and my body to the earth in hopes of a blessed Imortality on the Reserrection.
I give and bequeath to my wife Ann W. Hannan all my lands in Mason County Virginia to her and her seperate use during her natural life then at her natural death to be disposed of hereafter named all the Negros belonging to wife if she wants them if not to go as hereafter mention. I give and bequeath unto my wife Ann W. Hannan a

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

Negro girl Slave named Milley and her posterity to her and to dispose of as she sees proper allso a Negro girl Slave named Hetty as she might think proper for her use and benefit and her posterity.
I give and beaquath all the balance of my Slaves in Mason County Va. and lands to the use of the Gospel in said County Va. namely my lands after the death of my wife Ann W. Hannan to go to the benefit of any [Baptist and Southern Methodist – these words are struck through] preacher or preachers Baptist and Southern Methodist rent free forever that might preach to the people in this sourrounding county in succession one after the other forever rent free after the death of my wife allso all my property of every description after the death of my wife to go to the same perpose the Gospel in said County Virginia for the benefit and support of the poor Preachers throughought the said County Except the two named Slaves Milley and Hetty I have bequeathed to my wife Ann W. Hannan to her and sole use and benefit forever.
I give and bequeath the named Slaves to the Baptist and Southern Methodist preachers after the natural death of my wife Ann W. Hannan: Nelson Cudyo and Ben Packson and Bity Bill and Peter Dicky Slaves to be hired out to good Masters and proceeds to go for the building of Meeting houses and for the benefit of the Gospel in the lower district Mason County Virginia.
In witness I hereunto set my hand and Seal Oct the 4. 1856
Attest . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Charles Hannan (Seal)
William C (his x mark) Wray
Andrew (his + mark) Meadows
John O. Butler
Timothy S. Butler
A. J. Waren

At a Court Continued and held for Mason County in the court house thereof on Tuesday February the 8th 1861.
A writing purporting to be the last will and Testament of Charles Hannan deceased was this day produced in Court by Ann W. Hannan principal devisee therein, and John O. Butler and of the subscribing witnesses thereto Stated on oath that he was acquainted with the hand writing of Charles Hannan deceased and that he believed said writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Charles Hannan decd was entirely written and signed by said Charles Hannan decd. and that he at the request of said Charles Hannan decd subscribed his name to said will as an attesting witness in the presence of said Charles Hannan deceased and in the presence of Timothy S. Butler another subscribing witness thereto, and that he believed that said Charles Hannan deceased was at that time of sound mind and disposing memory and the probate of this will is continued for further proof until the first day of the next term of this court and on motion of the propounder it is ordered that Timothy S. Butler and A. J. Warren be summoned to attend at the next term of

1856 Last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

this Court to complete the proof of said Will.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Copy Teste James H. Holloway Clk.
At a Court held for Mason County, at the Courthouse thereof on Monday February the 4th 1861.
A writing purporting to be the last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan deceased bearing date on the 4th day of October 1856 was this day produced in Court by Ann W. Hannan, in order to be further proved, whereupon Timothy S. Butler one of the subscribing witnesses thereto stated on oath that he subscribed his name as an attesting witness to said writing at the request of said Charles Hannan decd in his presence and in the presence of John O. Butler another subscribing witness to said writing and that the said Charles Hannan decd acknowledged the same to be his last will & Testament in his presence and in the presence of John O. Butler who were present at the same time, and that he believed said Charles Hannan deceased was at that time of sound mind and disposing memory. It is therefore ordered that said writing of the 4th day of October 1856 be recorded as the last Will and Testament of Charles Hannan deceased.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Copy Teste James H. Holloway Clk.
At a Court continued and held for Mason County, at the Courthouse thereof on Thursday February the 7th 1861.
On the Motion of A. L. Knight who made oath, and together with A. M. Causland, J. V. Newman, W. O. Roseberry and George R. Knight his Securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in open Court in the penalty of $2000 conditioned as the law directs, certificate is granted the said A. L. Knight for obtaining letters of Administration of the Estate of Charles Hannan deceased with his Will annexed in due form. Whereupon on the further motion of the said A. L. Knight it is ordered that David George, John A. Hunter, Jesse Waugh, Augustus Cobb, and Robert M.Hereford or any three of whom, being first duly sworn before a Justice of the peace for that purpose do truly and justly appraise in current money the personal estate of the said Charles Hannan deceased and return the appraisement under their hands to the Court.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Copy Teste James H. Holloway Clk.

Charles Hannan was “killed by crews” on 24 November 1860 in Mason County.2 His will was proven and recorded as noted in the transcript above in February 1861. This is the first record I have found which identifies enslaved persons with what appear to be surnames: Nelson Cudyo and Ben Packson and Bity Bill and Peter Dicky. Only Milley and Hetty were named without surnames.

1861 Inventory of the Estate of Charles Hannan

The personal estate of Charles Hannan was appraised the 20th day of February 1861.3 The following list of the property was made and each item valued. At the top of the list are:

one Negro man named Nelson $800
one Negro woman named Milie $650
one Negro girl named Bettie $450
one Negro boy named Ben $500
one Negro boy named Dick $500
one Negro girl named Hettie $300

The appraisement and inventory of the personal estate of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.
The appraisement and inventory of the personal estate of Charles Hannan of Mason County, Virginia. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

1867 Settlement of the Estate of Charles Hannan

The estate of Charles Hannan was not settled until 15 July 1867. The settlement was confirmed and ordered to be recorded on 9 September 1867.4 It included $3,200, the appraised value of six Negroes.

The settlement of the estate of Charles Hannan. Image courtesy of FamilySearch.

Charles Hannan and his wife Ann W. Fox were not located in the 1850 or 1860 census nor was Charles on the slave schedule of Mason County, Virginia. Charles’ wife Ann died in 1879 and left a will mentioning her former slave. His name will be featured in next month’s post.

I hope one or the other descendant will recognize his/her ancestor’s name and be able to open the door in their brick wall.

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.

© 2020, 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-HN9X-K6?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 29 March 2020), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 93+94 of 165; pages 146-148, citing Mason County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), Virginia, Mason County, 24 November 1860, Charles Hannan, age 54 years 20 days, son of Thomas and Mary, consort Ann Hannan, informant George W. Grobe, nephew. 1860 Death Record. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=5269843&Type=Death : accessed 29 March 2020). 
  3. West Virginia County Court (Mason County), “Appraisement and settlement, 1854-1927,” database with images, FamilySearch, Film 567424 Item 2, DGS 7618497, pages 136-137 (bottom) 138-139 (top), images 328-329 of 423. The entry in this register is recorded across two pages. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99K9-3G5V?i=327&cat=66225 : accessed 29 March 2020) 
  4. Ibid., pages 294-295, image 407 of 423. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99K9-3G2K?i=406&cat=66225 : accessed 29 March 2020) 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Silah, Jane, Melacy, Daphney, Agness

While researching my families who lived in Mason County, West Virginia, I came across the last will and testament of Thomas Hannan (1757-1835).

In the will he mentions: a Negro Girl Slave named Silah, one Negro Girl Slave Jane, one Negro girl Slave Melacy, and three Negro children, one girl the child of Daphney, two boys Sons of Agness. The names of the three children are not given.1

1834 Last Will and Testament of Thomas Hannan

Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 27 of 165 courtesy of FamilySearch

In the name of God Amen, I Thomas Hannan of the County of Mason & State of Virginia, being weak in body from advanced age, but of sound mind disposing memory Knowing the uncertainty of life & the certainty of death, in order to dispose of the worldly goods that I have been blessed with, do make and publish this my last will and testament – first I commit my soul to God who gave it, and my body to the earth, in hopes of a blessed immortality in the resurrection – and desire that after my death, my body may be directly interred by my Executors, & the funeral expenses and all my Just debts be fully paid & satisfied. I give and bequeath to my Sons John Hannan, Esom Hannan & Henry Hannan, or the Survivors of them the home tract of land situate on the Ohio river at and above the mouth of little Guyandotte Creek containing five hundred acres, with all and singular its appertenences (sic) but upon this trust & use nevertheless that they or the Survivors of them Shall annually account & pay over the rents & profits of Said land unto my Son Charles Hannan, or in their discretion to permit him to use occupy and enjoy the Same during his life – and at the death of the Said Charles, I then give the Said land to his children if he should have any, if not to be disposed of in the manner hereinafter provided for the distribution of my property generally:
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Sarah Whitten a Negro Girl Slave named Silah
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Susannah Shelton the wife of James Shelton one Negro Girl Slave Jane
I give and bequeath unto my Grand daughter Mahala Maxwell one Negro girl Slave Melacy
I desire that the three Negro children, one girl the child of Daphney, two boys Sons of Agness, which I have Sent over the River for their liberty, I desire Shall remain free forever.
My Son Henry owes me Seventy five Dollars & Jesse thirty Dollars, which is to be taken as part of my Estate
I then desire that all my estate not hereby specially bequeathed whether real or personal Shall be equally divided among my children, or the heirs of them that may not be living
Lastly I appoint my two sons John Hannan & Esom Hannan or the Survivor of them the Executors of this my last will & testament. Hereby revoking all other wills heretofore made.
In Testimony whereof I have hereunto Set my hand & Seal this 24th day of September 1834.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Hannan (x his mark)
Attest
John Lendley
Geo W. Shelton
Thomas M. Shelton

Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 27 of 165 courtesy of FamilySearch

At a court held for Mason County April 27th 1835
a writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Thomas Hannan decd. was this day presented in open court and was proven in part, by the oath of Thomas M. Shelton one of the Subscribing witnesses thereto and continued for further proof teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Lewis clerk

At a court held for Mason County May 4th 1835
The last will and testament of Thomas Hanna decd which was in part proved by the oath of Thomas M. Shelton a Subscribing witness thereto at April term last past, now this day further proved by the oath of George W. Shelton also a Subscribing witness thereto and the same is ordered to be Recorded And on the Motion of John Hannan & Esom Hannan Executors named in the Said will who made oath thereto and together with Charles Clendinen William A. McMullin & Robt. A. Hereford their Securities entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of $8,000 conditioned as the law directs certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate of the Said will in due form of Law.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Lewis clerk

At a Court held for Mason County, November 2nd 1835
The last will and testament of Thomas Hannan decd which was proved at former terms of this court, by two subscribing witnesses thereto and ordered to record was this day further proved by the oath of John Lendley who is also a Subscribing witness thereto.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas Lewis clerk

Thomas Hannan in the U.S. Federal Census

In 1820 Thomas Hannan was enumerated in Mason County, Virginia.2 In his household there were 7 enslaved persons:

Slaves – Males – Under 14 : 2
Slaves- Females – Under 14: 4
Slaves – Females – 26 thru 44: 1

In 1830 the number had gone up to 9 and were in the following age groups:3

Slaves – Males – Under 10: 2
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 3
Slaves – Females – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1

Several of the sons of Thomas Hannan left wills: Charles in 1860, John in 1861, and Esom in 1867. The wills of the first two included names of enslaved persons and will be shared next time.

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.

© 2020, 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-HN9X-P7?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : accessed 26 January 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 27 of 165; citing Mason County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_138, Virginia, Mason, image 137, Thomas Hannan entry. The official enumeration day of the 1820 census was the 1st Monday in August. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 February 2020). 
  3. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, NARA microfilm publication M19, Roll 198, Family History Library Film 0029677, Virginia, Mason County, Page: 146, Thomas Hannan entry. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 28 February 2020). 

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2020

It’s time for my Ancestor Score! 

This is my seventh year doing the Ancestor Score on Valentine’s Day.  I first read about this way of keeping tabs on the progress in my genealogy research on Barbara Schmidt’s blog Connecting the Worlds in 2014.

My Ancestor Score

In the first eight generations, there were no changes. I’m still missing my 3rd great-grandparents Mr. and Mrs. DEMPSEY. In generations 9 through 13, new ancestors were found, mostly on my maternal side. In all, I have 81 new ancestors.

Stats for the previous years are included for comparison in the table above and below (for my children).

My Children’s Ancestor Score

My children’s ancestor score reflects the increase in my score as well as new ancestors from their father’s side. Nearly all of their new ancestors were found while I worked on and wrote about their 6th great-grandparents. This research included looking into these ancestors’ parents, grandparents, and, in some cases, even great-grandparents.

Pedigree Collapse

In both of the Ancestor Score charts, I’ve counted at least one ancestral couple several times. Martin FEILEN was counted in the 1656 Feuerstätten-Liste (fireplaces list) for Luxembourg. He and his wife Catharina were my children’s 9th great-grandparents (through son Mathias) on their paternal side. They were also their 9th great-grandparents (through son Mathias and through daughter Kunigunde) and their 10th great-grandparents (through their daughter Kunigunde) on my side! They were each counted four times.

[There are a few more cases of pedigree collapse in the family tree. I haven’t considered reducing the number of possible ancestors in each generation to reflect duplicates.] 

Please leave a link in the comments below if you’ve recently calculated your Ancestor Score. I’d love to take a look.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Wishing you a year full of love and meaningful friendships.

The posts from preceding years can be found here:

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mary and her child Esther

While researching my families who lived in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia) I found the following record which names two enslaved persons.

This indenture names female slave Mary & her child Esther, together with all and singular the natural increase of both said slaves.1

1846 Hix to J. B. Cobbs Indenture

In the margin:

Hix to J.D. Cobbs final

Tax paid J.A.N.

Delivered to
Jno. Clowes for ____
his mother.

This Indenture made and entered into this 22nd day of September 1845 by and between William Hicks of Amherst County of the first part. Emma Clowes the wife of Sidney B. Clowes and James M. Cobbs of the Town of Lynchburg of the second and third parts. Witnesseth: that whereas the said William Hicks is desirous to settle upon and secure to the sole & separate use of the said Emma Clowes, one female slave named Mary and her child Esther, together with the increase of both said slaves, to be held and enjoyed by the said Emma for and during her natural life, and at her death to go to & belong to the child or children of said Emma, share & share alike or the survivors of them by the present or any future husband, and the descendants of any who may die before the mother, such descendants taking such share or shares as their parents or parents would have taken, had he she or they survived the said Emma. Now therefore in considerations of the premises, and the further consideration of the sum of one dollar in hand paid to the said William Hicks, at & before the enscaling and delivery of these presents, the receipts of which is hereby fully acknowledged, he the said Hicks hath bargained & sold & delivered and by these presents do bargain sell and deliver unto the said James M. Cobbs, the said female slave Mary & her child Esther, together with all and singular the natural increase of both said slaves. To have & to hold the said slaves together with their increase, the said William Hicks for himself his Exors & admins doth hereby warrant & defend a good lawful and sufficient right & titles as against himself his executors & admrs. & as against all & every person or persons, claiming by through or under him and not otherwise. In trust nevertheless that it shall be the duty of the said James M. Cobbs to permit the said Emma Clowes to have take & enjoy the hires use & profits of the said slaves & their increase for and during her natural life as a sole and separate estate free from the actual contracts or liabilities of her said husband or of any future husband. And at her death shall cause the said slaves together with all & singular their future increase to be equally divided amongst the children or child of said Emma who may survive her, and amongst the descendants of any child who may have died before her, giving to such descendant or descendants only such share as their parent or parents would have taken had he or she survived her or her mother. In testimony of all which the parties hereto have signed their names sealed with their seals the day & year above written.
Witness
J. J. Watson

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William Hix
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emma Clowes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . James M. Cobbs
In the Clerks Office of the Lynchburg Hustings? Court, March 10th 1846.
. . . . . . This deed from William Hix to James M. Cobbs for the benefit of Emma Clowes, which was acknowledged by all the parties before the clerk on the 15th January 1846, was this day admitted to record, the tax thereon being paid.
. . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . James Benagh clk

Clerks Office of Greenbrier
County Court October 13th 1847
. . . . . . . . This deed was this day presented in the office and with the above certificates of the acknowledgments, is admitted to record.
. . . . . . . Teste
. . . . . . . . . John A. North D.C

About the persons in the indenture

William Hicks was found in Amherst County in 1840 as William Hix with 12 slaves.2

Emma Clowes was born Emma Handley, daughter of Alexander Handley. She married Sydney Bailey Clowes in Botetourt County, Virginia, in 1833.3 Both of her parents were deceased when the indenture was drawn up.

In 1850 S. B. Clowes was on the Slave Schedule of Greenbrier County, Virginia, with one 25 years old female black and one 7 years old female black.4

By 1860 the Clowes family had moved to Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia. S. B. Clowes was on the Slave Schedule with four black females ages: 35, 18, 9, and 6.5 Could they be Mary and her daughter Esther as well as two daughters born to Mary after 1850?

Sydney B. Clowes was listed on the 18506, 18607, and 18708 census as a Stage Agent.

As the slave schedule does not give names of the enslaved persons it is a guess on my part that Mary may have been born about 1825 and Esther may have been born about 1843 and seen on the 1850 schedule. Mary was the mother of Esther per the indenture. Mary may have also been the mother of the two younger girls born about 1851 and 1854 and seen on the 1860 schedule.

It has been a while since I’ve been able to release the names found in records as I am only now getting back to doing US research. In hopes that Mary and Esther will be recognized by descendants and this will help them to break through their brick wall.

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 every month 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.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Greenbrier County (West Virginia) County Clerk, “Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901” (non-indexed images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia), Film 593555, DGS #8152881, Deeds, v. 17-18 1843-1851, image 174+175 of 612, page 333-334. Hix to J. D. Cobb Indenture. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-J7MX-8?i=173&cat=98577 : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  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, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 209, line 3, William Hix. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3.   “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940” (index), Ancestry, citing FamilySearch, Index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City., FHL Film Number: 30734, page 366. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Slave Schedule, Virginia, Greenbrier, image 2 of 7, line 1-2, S. B. Clews. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  5. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Slave Schedule, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 6, line 14-17, S. B. Clowes. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  6. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Greenbrier, District 18, image 252, page 283A, S. B. Clows household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 24, Sidney B. Clowes household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  8. 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_1675, Family History Library Film: 553174, Virginia, Rockbridge, Lexington, page 477B, Sydnor Clows household. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 

The Ancestors: Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret (394 & 395)

The parents of my 4th great-grandmother Mary Ann McGRAW were Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret. This was proven by a tiny slip of paper in which they gave permission for their daughter to marry William WOOD in June 1800.1

June
Sir, this coms (sic) to let you now (sic) that
I Marten and Marget Mcgraw
is willing that William Wood should

have our daughter Mary Ann
To John Hutchason (Clerk)
The above was sworn to by
John Wood one of the witnesses
present.

The bond2 entered 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William and Mary Ann doesn’t give information on their parentage nor does the entry made in the register for marriages performed in the county of Monroe by John ALDERSON.3

Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret

Very few records link my 5th great-grandparents Martin and Margaret McGRAW to their possible children.

Were Martin and Margaret the only family of this name in the area at the time? Were they or could they be the parents of each of the young McGRAW men and women who married in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Nicholas counties from 1798 to 1820?

[1] Anthony McGRAW married Elizabeth BRYANT 3 October 1798 in Greenbrier4
[2] John McGRAW married Sally ANDERSON 15 February 1799 in Greenbrier5
[3] Mary Ann McGRAW married William WOOD 18 June 1800 in Monroe (see above)
[4] Martin McGRAW Jr. married Nancy WOOD 3 May 1806 in Monroe6
[5] William McGRAW married Lucretia WITHROW 11 March 1813 in Monroe7
[6] Elender McGRAW married Solomon NELSON 1 March 1810 in Greenbrier8
[7] Samuel McGRAW married Elizabeth WOOD 28 May 1812 in Monroe9
[8] Thomas McGRAW married Catherine WITHROW 30 July 1820 in Nicholas10
[9] Henry McGRAW married likely before 1821. No marriage record found.

These marriages took place during a period when census records were lost for Virginia (1800) and Greenbrier County (1810) where Martin and Margaret were living. This makes analyzing the family group(s) in a census impossible. What other records are available to replace the missing records?

Personal Property Tax Lists

The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax, the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of slaves both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables.11

Personal property tax records provide important data. Individuals with the same names may be distinguished by a junior or senior or named by the districts or location they resided. Parentage may be inferred by the number of male tithables between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one in the household of the taxpayer. When a free male appeared in his own name rather than in the household of another, he was probably twenty-one years of age. The name of a woman appeared only when owning property in her own right or as the widow of a property owner.

The Personal property tax lists, 1782-1850 for Greenbrier County and the Personal property tax lists, 1831-1850 for Fayette County are presently only available online with additional restrictions, i.e. accessing the FamilySearch site at a family history center or at a FamilySearch affiliate library.

Julie McGrew Ayres accessed these records and shared her transcriptions in February 1999 on USGenWeb Archives Special Projects. I used her lists of McGRAW tithables in Greenbrier County for 1792 to 183312  and in Fayette County for 1831-183913  to form the possible family group of Martin and Margaret.

Martin McGRAW and Anthony McGRAW first appear in the 1796 Greenbrier County, (West) Virginia Personal Property Tax List. In 1792 and 1795 no McGRAW was listed. This would suggest the McGRAWs came to the area just before 1796.

[1] Anthony McGRAW b. abt. 1775

As Anthony married in 1798 and was the only McGRAW other than Martin on the tax list of 1796, he was likely the oldest son. He was continuously seen on the tax list up until 1812. From 1813 to 1816 there were no McGRAW men on the lists for Greenbrier. Anthony served as a Private in Capt. McClung’s Company of the 4th Regiment of the Virginia Militia during the War of 1812. He died on 1 August 1814 per documents in his widow’s War of 1812 widow’s pension application.14 It may have been later in the month as she gave in this statement in her an application in 1853:

 …that her said husband the aforesaid Anthony McGraw died at Norfork about the last days of August 1814 in consequence of decease contracted while in the Service of the United States and in the line of his duty…

[2] John McGRAW b. abt. 1776 in Pennsylvania

John shows up on the 1797 tax list which would suggest he was born about 1776. He was seen on the tax list until 1800, the year after his marriage. In 1810 he was found on a tax list for Russell County, Virginia.15 According to descendants of the Russell County McGRAWs, his wife Sally died in 1805.  If this is the case, John must have remarried as there are children born after 1805. In 1850 he was listed as born in Pennsylvania.16

[3] Mary Ann McGRAW b. abt. 1781

Mary Ann’s age can only be determined by the year of her marriage. She married in 1800 and was likely not yet 21 years of age as her parents gave their permission. This record proves she was a child of Martin and Margaret.

[4] Martin McGRAW Jr. b. abt. 1785 in Pennsylvania

Note: Martin McGRAW, son of Martin, has not been seen with the suffix Jr. following his name. It is used here to distinguish him from his father Martin.)

Martin Jr. was married in 1806. He was likely the second white tithable in his father’s tax listing from 1803 to 1805. His father Martin was last listed on the 1805 tax list. His mother Margaret was listed from 1810. Martin Jr. lived in Monroe County in 1810 and was on the census as a male white age 26 thru 44.17 He died 25 October 1858 in Fayette County per his widow’s War of 1812 widow’s application.18 His widow was his second wife Sarah JOHNSON who died about July 1890. His first wife Nancy WOOD died 1 July 1833 (proven by Neighbors’ Affidavits in the pension file). In 1850 Martin was listed on a census in Putnam County as born in Pennsylvania.19 Ages weren’t listed for persons enumerated in this area of the county in 1850. His year of birth has been estimated at about 1785.

[5] William McGRAW b. abt. 1787-1788

William first showed up on the tax list in 1809 and 1811. No tax was collected in 1808 as no law was passed. As he was on the 1809 list he must have been born 1787-1788. William has not been traced after his marriage in 1813.

[6] Elender McGRAW b. abt. 1789

Elender was likely 21 years of age when she married in 1810. She died in 1846 in her 57th year per her tombstone.20

[7] Samuel McGRAW abt. 1792 in Augusta County, Virginia

Samuel, born about 1792, may have been one of the two tithables noted on his mother’s tax list in 1810. His age was consistent on the census of 1850 to 1870, allowing his year of birth to be estimated at about 1792.21,22,23 Samuel gave his age as 74 years and his place of birth as Augusta County, Virginia, on 15 September 1866 on a voters’ list.24

[8] Thomas McGRAW b. abt. 1795 in Virginia

Thomas’ wife gave the names of his parents as Martin and Margaret McGRAW when she reported his death in 1855. He died at the age of 60.25 Using this record, his birth was estimated at about 1795 making him 22 years old when he was first seen on a tax list in Greenbrier on 11 April 1817 with 1 white male over 16, no slaves, 1 horse. He was born in Virginia per the 1850 census26 but unknown was listed on the death register by his wife.

[9] Henry McGRAW abt. 1797 in Greenbrier County

Henry was seen on the census from 1850 to 1870 with the ages 52, 63, and 72 which places his birth at about 1797.27,28,29 In 1820 he was the head of household in Monroe in the age category 16 thru 25. Also in the household was an older woman age 45 and over, likely his mother, and a younger boy age 10 thru 15.30 Henry may have married in late 1820 after the census was enumerated as his first child was born in 1821. In 1830 Henry had an older woman in his household age 70 thru 79.31 This was the last time an older woman was seen in the household of the presumable youngest child of Martin and Margaret.

Martin McGRAW and Margaret McGRAW on the Tax Lists

As can be seen on the list below, Martin was in Greenbrier County as early as 1796 and up until at least 1805. From 180332 to 1805 he had at least one son who was over 16 and under 21 years of age. This was likely Martin Jr. The sons William, Samuel, Thomas, and Henry were all under 17 years of age in 1805.

1796 April 17 – Martin Mgraw, 1 white tithable, 3 horses
1798 May 4 – Martin Megraw, 1 white tithable, 1 horse
1799 April 19 – Martin Megraw, 1 white tithable
1802 May 22 – Martin McGraw, 1 white tithable
1803 April 5 – Martin McGraw, 2 white tithables, 1 horse
1804 March 14 – Martin McGraw, 2 white tithables, 2 horses
1805 – Martin Magraw, 2 white tithables, 3 horses

Margaret McGRAW, the widow of Martin, showed up on the Tax List in 1810 with 2 white tithables and 4 horses.33 Her sons Samuel and Thomas were likely these tithables. Henry was younger than 17 and not counted. In 1811 Margaret was on the Tax List with only 3 horses. No tithables. Her three unmarried sons would have been between 14 and 19 years of age and two tithables would have been enumerated if they were living at home. Were the two older boys accounted for in someone else’s household in Greenbrier or Monroe?

Missing Land and Probate Records

Land deeds in the area were consulted. Martin McGRAW did not own land in Greenbrier or in Monroe (the counties of Nicholas and Fayette were formed after his demise). He did not leave a will nor was there an estate administered, inventoried, or sold. All of these records which might have included information about the children of Martin and Margaret were not produced.

Proven Children

The parentage of my fourth great-grandmother Mary Ann McGRAW and her brother Thomas McGRAW is proven as seen above. As Martin and Margaret were the only McGRAW couple in the area at the time can it be inferred that the other seven children were theirs as well?

More Questions

With the proven and assumed children of Martin and Margaret established, several more questions remain. Where did they come from? Who were the parents of Martin McGRAW? What was Margaret’s maiden name? Who were Margaret’s parents?

Martin’s older sons John b. abt. 1776 and Martin b. abt. 1785 both claim to have been born in Pennsylvania. His son Samuel claimed to have been born in Augusta County in 1792. Martin was first seen on a tax list in Greenbrier in 1796. Can it be assumed the McGRAWs came from Pennsylvania after 1785 via Augusta County in 1792 to Greenbrier by 1796?

Learning more about Pennsylvania research appears to be one of the next steps in solving the question of the parentage of my 5th great-grandparents Martin McGRAW and his wife Margaret.

Confirming Relationships with DNA

Can DNA open the door in this brick wall? How much work needs to be put into analyzing DNA matches to confirm the assumed relationships seen above?

Ancestry’s ThruLines™ is showing 159 matches for Martin McGRAW’s children for my test and 187 for my brother’s. Matches for each child are (mine/his): Anthony (15/24), John (27/32), Mary Ann (45/32), Martin (21/48), William (1/1), Ellender (2/2), Samuel (26/17),  Thomas (8/11), and Henry (14/19).

Interesting is the high number of matches for John who left the area and raised his family in Russell County, Virginia. Also interesting is the very low number of matches for William and Ellender. I suspect William is a false match. Ellender’s matches are close family members and one of them is showing up on Gedmatch. The chromosome segment overlaps the segment shared with a known descendant of Henry McGRAW.

Three of the McGRAW children (in bold) married WOOD siblings. This produces many double cousins through the McGRAW and the WOOD lines. This will make walking the segments back to the common ancestors more challenging – if the matches transfer their raw DNA to sites with chromosomes browsers.

And now it’s your turn, dear McGRAW descendants, to comment and question the family group established for my 5th great-grandparents, Martin and Margaret McGRAW.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia, Monroe County, June 1800, William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw, permission slip from her parents. 1800 Marriage Permission Slip. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370465&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  2. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, Marriage Bond dated 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw. “Marriage Bond #39
    William Wood and John Wood went bond on the marriage of William Wood and Mary Anne McGraw (both of Monroe) on 18 June 1800 in Monroe County, Virginia.” 1800 Marriage Bond (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370480&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800 William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw married by John Alderson. 1800 Marriage Record entry (right page, 1st entry under Alderson). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369625&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  4. Ibid., West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 3 October 1799 marriage entry for Anthony McGraw and Betsy Brien married by John Alderson. 1799 Marriage Entry (right page, 11th entry from bottom). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10975169&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 15 February 1799 marriage entry for John McGraw and Sally Anderson married by B. Grigsby. 1799 Marriage Entry (right page, 12th entry from bottom).
    (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10975169&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 3 May 1806, Nancy Wood and Martin McGraw married by John Alderson, banns were published. 1806 Marriage Record (right page, 4th entry from bottom). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369727&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 11 March 1813, William McGraw and Lucretia Withrow married by John Alderson. 1813 Marriage entry (right side, middle). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369506&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  8. Ibid., West Virginia, Greenbrier County, 1 March 1810, Solomon Nelson and El McGraw married by Joshua Osborn. 1810 Marriage entry (right page, second to last entry)
    (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10976269&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  9. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, marriage bond dated 19 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Bailey Wood went bond on the marriage of Bailey’s daughter Elizabeth Wood and Samuel McGraw. 1812 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11371819&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  10. Ibid., West Virginia, Nicholas County, 31 July 1820, Thomas McGraw and Caty Withrow married by James Ellison. 1820 Marriage Register (line 2). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11432815&Type=Marriage : accessed 10 January 2020). 
  11. Using Personal Property Tax Records in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Library of Virginia (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/rn3_persprop.pdf : accessed 18 January 2020) 
  12. Julie McGrew-Ayres, “Greenbrier County, WV – McGraw’s in the Greenbrier Co. Tax Lists – 1792-1833,” abstract of the tax lists submitted in February 1999, USGenWeb Archives Special Projects,  (http://files.usgwarchives.net/wv/greenbrier/taxlists/mcgraw.txt : accessed 9 January 2020). 
  13. Julie McGrew-Ayres, “Fayette County, WV – McGraw’s in the Fayette Co. Tax Lists – 1831-1839,” abstract of the tax lists submitted in February 1999, USGenWeb Archives Special Projects, (http://files.usgwarchives.net/wv/fayette/taxlists/mcgrawtx.txt : accessed 9 January 2020). 
  14. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files, compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), Record Group 15, Roll RG15-1812PB-Bx2276, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Anthony McGraw (Capt McClung 4th Reg’t, Virginia Militia, War of 1812), widow Elizabeth Gill formerly Elizabeth McGraw. (https://www.fold3.com/image/316993307 : accessed 4 January 2020). 
  15. 1790 / 1800 / 1810 Virginia Tax List Censuses, (reconstructed 1790, 1800, and 1810 federal censuses using tax list, microfilm images with every name indexes), Binns Genealogy (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/) citing original records from Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia or Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, Russell County, Virginia, 1810 Personal Tax List A, page 13, right line, line 12, John McGraw. 1810 Russell County, Virginia Tax List. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000497/1810/1810PersonalA/13.pdf : accessed 16 January 2020). 
  16. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 54, Russell, Virginia; Roll: M432_975; Page: 307A; Image: 184. John McGraw (head of household) listed as born in Pennsylvania. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 9 January 2020). 
  17. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Year: 1810; Census Place: Monroe, Monroe, Virginia; Roll: 70; Page: 575; Image: 00022; Family History Library Film: 0181430Family History Library Film: 0181420. “.” (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  18. War of 1812 Pension Files, Roll RG15-1812PB-Bx2276, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Martin McGraw (5th Regiment, Capt. James R. Nemal’s Company, Virginia Militia, War of 1812), widow Sarah Jane (Johnson) McGraw. (https://www.fold3.com/image/316993473 : accessed 4 January 2020). 
  19. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 287A; Image: 243. Martin McGraw (head of household) born in Pennsylvania. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  20. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 22 January 2020), memorial page for Elender “Nellie” McGraw Nelson (1788–2 Aug 1845), Find A Grave Memorial no. 55298224, citing Nelson Cemetery, Richland Township, Madison County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Bonnie Morris Conrad (contributor 46480766). 
  21. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 351A; Image: 307. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  22. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 367; Family History Library Film: 805344. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  23. 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, Year: 1870; Census Place: Mountain Cove, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1686; Page: 140B; Family History Library Film: 553185. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  24. County Clerk, Register of the Names of Voters in Fayette County, West Virginia 1866, FamilySearch, Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1958 (Microfilm of originals at the West Virginia University Library, Morgantown), Names of persons voting and tally of votes, Item 7, Mountain Cove, image 130 of 154, last line. 15 September 1866 Samuel McGraw gave his age as 74 years and his place of birth as Augusta County, Virginia. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C34W-543H?i=129&cat=220730 : accessed 16 January 2020). 
  25. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History, (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr). 1855 Death Register entry for Thomas McGraw line 68. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4786546&Type=Death : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  26. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 281B; Image: 232. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 22 January 2020). 
  27. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 338A; Image: 281+282. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  28. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 410; Family History Library Film: 805344. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  29. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Census Place: Mountain Cove, Fayette, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1686; Page: 156A; Family History Library Film: 553185. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  30. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, 1820 U Census Place: Peterstown, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 179; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 218. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  31. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archive and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Census Place: Greenbrier, Virginia; Series: M19; Roll: 190; Page: 192; Family History Library Film: 0029669. “.” (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  32. Virginia Tax List (Binnsgenealogy), Greenbrier, 1803 Personal Tax List B, page 14, line 18, Martin McGraw. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Greenbrier/1803PersonalB/14.jpg : accessed 7 September 2014). 
  33. Ibid., Virginia, Greenbrier County, 1810 Personal Tax List B, page 8, right side, line 2, Margaret McGraw. (http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000484/1810/1810PersonalB/08.pdf : accessed 16 January 2020). 

Walking the Land Back to the Original Grant

A few weeks ago I shared The 1806 Administrator Bond for the Estate of William Johnson Sr. (1755-1805) and followed it up with last week’s post Time to Pull up Stakes and Move on about the land William and Amy sold in 1798 in Greenbrier County before moving to Kanawha County in what is now West Virginia.

William JOHNSON Sr. (1755-1805) and Amy NELSON (1757-1837) were my 5th great-grandparents. From the wording of the two land deeds, they were a part of an original 150 acres land grant. These are the steps I took to show the land they sold was the same land granted to William in 1796.

Plotting the Tracts

Early this year I tried my hand at abstracting call lines from a deed and plotting the tract. I found the tract on a present-day map and wrote about the tools I used in I Found the Coolest Site to Use for Land Records in West Virginia.

As I had been successful with my CLONCH ancestor’s land, I tried the same tactic with William and Amy’s two land tracts. I used the following tools:

Pole to Foot Converter

Tract Plotter

Johnston to Tennis, 62 acres on Lick Run

As I had already transcribed the deeds all I needed to do was to abstract the call lines and convert the poles to feet for the Tract Plotter. For the Johnston to Tennis land deed:

Begining at a Double white oak and chesnut corner to the old survey & thence through the survey south Eighty three Degrees East one Hundred & twenty pole
Call Line: S83E 120 poles (1980 ft)

to an aposite Corner of the old survey & Flathers & with old line North Thirty six Degrees west one Hundred and sixty eight pole 
Call line: N36W 168 poles (2772 ft)

to four Locusts and soth (sic) Seventy Degrees wet forty four Pole
Call line: S70W 44 poles (726 ft)

to two white oaks & South thirteen Degrees East one Hundred and fourteen pole to the Begining
Call line: S13E 114 poles (1881 ft)

As can be seen below the call lines for the Johnston to Tennis tract calculate to 59.6 acres while 62 acres were seen in the deed.

Tract Plotter

Johnston to Kounts, 88 acres on Lick Run

The same was done for the Johnston to Kounts land deed:

Beginning at a black Oake & White Oake Corner to Kouns and with South thirty Eight Degrees East forty pole 
Call line: S38E 40 poles (660 ft)

to two white oaks and North fifty two Degrees East one Hundred and Eighty two pole
Call line: N52E 182 poles (3003 ft)

to Red Oak & two white oaks Corner to Keenan and the old Survey, thence through the Survey with Tineses line North Eighty three Degrees West one Hundred and twenty pole 
Call line: N83W 120 poles (1980 ft)

to the apasite Corner of old Survey and c? to Tennis on a Double White Oak and Chesnutt Oake on a Ridge and with old line South thirty two Degrees West Sixty six pole 
Call line: S32W 66 poles (1089 ft)

to Chesnutt Oake and black Oake and South Seventy Degrees West Ninety pole
Call line: S70W 90 poles (1485 ft)

to two white oaks and South ten degrees west fifty pole
Call line:  S10W 50 poles (825 ft)

to two White Oak Corner to Kounses own and with North Sixty Degree East Ninety one pole to the Beginning
Call line: N60E 91 poles (1501.5 ft)

The Johnston to Kounts tract calculates to 81.13 acres while 88 acres seen in the deed.

Tract Plotter (annotated with Evernote)

Merging the two tracts

After plotting the tracts I combined the two. The call lines N83W 1980 ft (Kounts) and S83E 1980 ft (Tennis) are the common boundary mentioned in the deeds. To combine them I used PicMonkey. The Tennis tract was reduced in size to match the scale of the Kounts tract.

Tract Plotter

The original 150 acres land grant

I looked at the original land grant of 150 acres only after I’d plotted the two land tracts side by side. I transcribed the description of the land, plotted the call lines, and came up with the same boundaries seen in the image (above) where the two were attached to each other.

…lying and being in the County of Greenbrier on the waters of Indian Creck a branch of New River and adjoining the Land of Patrick Kenan, Edward Fleathers and Samuel Black and bounded as followeth to wit. Beginning at a black and white oak, corner to Kenan and with the same South thirty eight degrees East forty poles two white oaks North fifty two degrees East one hundred and eighty two poles to a red oak and two white oaks on Fleathers’s line and leaving the same, North thirty six degrees West one hundred and sixty eight poles to four Locusts, South seventy degrees West forty four poles to two white oaks, South thirteen degrees East one hundred & fourteen poles to a double white and Chesnut oak, on the top of a hill thence South thirty two degrees West sixty six poles to a Chesnut and black oak, South seventy degrees West ninety poles to two white oaks, South ten degrees West fifty poles to two white oaks corner to Kenan thence North sixty degrees East ninety one poles to the beginning…

Call lines:
S38E 40 poles (660 ft)
N52E 182 poles (3003 ft)
N36W 168 poles (2772 ft
S70W 44 poles (726 ft)
S13E 114 poles (1881 ft)
S32W 66 poles (1089 ft)
S70W 90 poles (1485 ft)
S10W 50 poles (825 ft)
N60E 91 poles (1501.5 ft)

Tract Plotter

Where was the land grant found?

Years ago I discovered The Library of Virginia‘s collection Virginia Land Office Patents and Grants/Northern Neck Grants and Surveys. A search turned up a land grant in Greenbrier County for one William JOHNSTON described as 150 acres on the waters of Indian Creek a branch of New River and adjoining the lands of Patrick Kenan (sic), Edward Heathers (sic), & c.

At the time I knew Patrick KEENAN was a neighbor as my 6th cousin David Fridley had found the records of sale for two tracts of land totaling 150 acres and extracted only the short description of the land. It appeared to be a match but without the 1798 records which I transcribed in my previous post, I couldn’t be 100% certain.

Now with all three deeds “in hand,” I was able to compare and prove the 150 acres granted to William JOHNSON on 10 May 1796 is the same land he sold in two parcels in June 1798 to TENNIS and KOUNTS.

Questions remain

William JOHNSON used the Land Office Treasure Warrant number 12841 issued 2 July 1782 to obtain the grant of 150 acres in 1796.

On the Kentucky.gov Portal, they have a searchable database that includes all Virginia Treasury Warrants. I searched for the warrant number William used and found it was in the name of Edward KENON for 1470 acres.

Why would William JOHNSON use a treasury warrant issued to Edward KENON (KEENAN)?

The Library of Virginia has an interesting guide states, “At any time in the grant process after the treasury warrant was purchased, the purchaser could assign (sell) the right to part or all of the land described in the warrant.”

Apparently, Edward KEENAN assigned or sold the right to 150 acres of the original 1470 acres he purchased to William JOHNSON. Could there be a story behind this? Why did William JOHNSON sell the land only two years after he received the grant?

A complete transcription of the 1796 land grant to William JOHNSON will be share in a later post. Next week I’ll be making an announcement…

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

Time to Pull up Stakes and Move on

William JOHNSON Sr. (1755-1805) and Amy NELSON (1757-1837) were my fifth great-grandparents. I wrote about their son William JOHNSON Jr. (1793-1845) and his wife Nancy Ann SIMS (abt. 1793-1860s) in 2014 during my first year blogging.

I’m reviewing William and Amy’s records and looking into opening some doors which have remained closed mainly due to my not having access to Virginia records from their period. Instead of starting with the earliest records, I’m going to move back into time.

A few weeks ago I wrote about The 1806 Administrator Bond for the Estate of William Johnson Sr. (1755-1805). An inventory of his estate has yet to be found. With the Administrator Bond, we learned William died before 9 April 1806 and likely during the winter of 1805. I have not found a primary or secondary source confirming he died 22 December 1805.1

In the General Index to Deeds of Kanawha County William JOHNSON Sr. wasn’t listed as a grantor nor as a grantee. He was not found on the land tax records of the county. Apparently, he did not acquire land during the seven years he lived in Kanawha County.

David Fridley, my double 6th cousin through William JOHNSON Sr. and Amy NELSON and through James SIMS and his first wife Phebe _____, has been supportive when it comes to researching our common ancestors over the years. We e-met in the days when mailing lists were active on Rootsweb and still keep up via email and Facebook.

David once mentioned two land records he’d abstracted from the deed books of Greenbrier County. He hadn’t noted the book or page number at the time. The deeds indicated William JOHNSON and his wife Amy deeded a total of 150 acres on Lick Run on 25 and 26 June 1798. As this was the last mention of them in Greenbrier County we believe they must have left for Kanawha County around 1798.

At the end of July, I located the deeds David found many years ago while checking into new collections on FamilySearch. The first thing I did was to send David the citations.

Johnston to Tennis, 62 acres on Lick Run

William JOHNSTON and Amy his wife sold 62 acres on Lick Run to William TENNIS as seen in the following deed.2

This Indenture made this 25 Day of June one Thousand seven Hundred and Ninety eight Between WIlliam Johnston and Amy his wife of the one Part and William Tennis of the other Each of the county of Greenbrier & State of Virginia Witnesseth that the said William Johnston and Amey his wife for & in consideration of the some (sic) of Five Shillings Current money of sd [said] State to them in hand Paid on or before the seling and delivering of their presents the Receipt whereof the Dead (sic) Hereby acknowledged have Bargained & sold & by these presents doe Bargain & sell unto the sd William Tennis and his heirs or assigns a certain tract or Percil of Land Containing sixty two acres it being part of a survey of one Hundred & fifty acres Granted to the sd Johnston by paten, lying & being in the county of Greenbrier on the Waters of lick run where sd Tennis now lives & is Bounded as followeth (to wit) Begining at a Double white oak and chesnut corner to the old survey & thence through the survey south Eighty three Degrees East one Hundred & twenty pole to an aposite Corner of the old survey & Flathers & with old line North Thirty six Degrees west one Hundred and sixty eight pole to four Locusts and soth (sic) Seventy Degrees wet forty four Pole to two white oaks & South thirteen Degrees East one Hundred and fourteen pole to the Begining with its appertainances to the sd William Tennis and his Heirs to the sole yeo? & behoof of the sd William Tennis his heirs or assigns forever and the sd William Johnston & Amy his wife for themselves and their Heirs Doth covenant with the said William Tennis and his heirs the said tract or parcel of land from themselves and their heirs to the said William Tennis and his Heirs or assigns against all and every person or persons whatsoever will warrent and will forever Defend in Witness Whereof we have hereunto set our Hands and seals the Day and the year above Written. 

Signed seald & Delivered
In the Presents off………………………..Williams (his mark) Jonston Seal
Edward Keenan
John Johnston………………………………Emey (her mark) Jonston Seal
Michael Kounts

At a Court held for Greenbrier County June the 26th 1798
This Deed from William Johnston to Wm Tennis was prest in Court & provd by the Oaths of Edward Keenan John Johnston & Michl Kounts and ordered to Record.
………………………………………Teste
………………………………………John Stuart C.G.C. (Clerk Greenbrier County)

Johnston to Kounts, 88 acres on Lick Run

William JOHNSTON and his wife Amy sold 88 acres on Lick Run to Michael KOUNTS as seen in the following deed.[^3]

This Indenture maid this Twenty ___ day of June one Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety Eight between William Johnston and Eamy his wife of the one part and Michael Kouns of the other Each of the County of Greenbrier and State of Virginia Witnesseth that the said William Johnston and Eamy his Wife for and in consideration of the sum of one Dollar current Money of said State to them in hand paid on or before the Sealing and delivering of these presents the receit whereof the do hereby Acknowledge have bargained and sold and by these presents doe bargain and Sell unto the said Michael Kouns and his Heirs and Assigns a Certain Tract or parcell of Land containing Eighty eight Acres & being the Land sd Johnston now lives on Lying and being in the County of Greenbrier on the Lick Run Joining the Land of Edward Keenan Isaac Palton and Kounces own Land Bough of Keenan & being the S.W. End of said Survey of 150 Acres and is bounded as followeth (to Wit) Beginning at a black Oake & White Oake Corner to Kouns and with South thirty Eight Degrees East forty pole to two white oaks and North fifty two Degrees East one Hundred and Eighty two pole to Red Oak & two white oaks Corner to Keenan and the old Survey, thence through the Survey with Tineses line North Eighty three Degrees West one Hundred and twenty pole to the apasite Corner of old Survey and c? to Tennis on a Double White Oak and Chesnutt Oake on a Ridge and with old line South thirty two Degrees West Sixty six pole to Chesnutt Oake and black Oake and South Seventy Degrees West Ninety pole to two white oaks and South ten degrees west fifty pole to two White Oak Corner to Kounses own and with North Sixty Degree East Ninety one pole to the Beginning with all the appertainances thereunto belonging to the said Michael Kounts and his Heirs and Assignes to the sole use and behoof of the said Michael Kounts and his Heirs and Assignes forever and the said William Johnston and Eamy his Wife for themselves and their Heirs doth Covenant with the said Michael Kouns and his Heirs the said Tract or Parcil of Land from themselves and their Heirs to the said Michael Kouns and his Heirs, against all and every Person or Persons whatsoever will Warrant and will forever defend in Witness whereof we have hereunto set our Hands and Seals the Day and year above Written
Signd, Seald & Acknowledgd
in the Presents off……………………………William (his mark) Jonston Seal
Edward Keenan
John Johnson………………………………….Eamey (her mark) Jonston Seal
Wm Tennis

At a Court held for Greenbrier County June the 26th 1798
This Deed from William Johnston to Michael Kounts was presented in Court and proved by the Oaths of Edwd Keenan John Johnston and William Tennis and the same is order to Record
………………………….Teste
…………………………..John Stuart

Interesting thoughts from David

When I contacted David with the citations he wrote, “Thanks so much for following up with these citations! There’s an awful lot of data I have still from my days decades ago of visiting courthouses that need adequate citation today, and I’m thankful for the increasing amount of digitized records on FamilySearch.

He further wrote, “It’s also useful to revisit the original documents, since there’s more to be learned from a current perspective, for example noticing that “Eamey E. Jonston” included a middle initial, which I don’t think I’ve seen before.

I hadn’t noticed the use of the middle initial. When I transcribed the deeds I saw where David thought a middle initial was used. However, I believe it is a scribble and meant to be her mark.

Here are close-ups of the “signatures” on the recorded deeds. I don’t think these are their actual signatures.

“Signatures” on Johnston to Tennis deed (top) and Johnston to Kounts deed (bottom)

Taking a closer look at the names, on the bottom image, it is clearly noted these are their marks. William appears to have signed with an x. The mark copied into the book by the clerk for the second deed (bottom) looks similar to the E in the first name Eamey and likely why David thought she was using a middle initial. I believe Amy’s mark is two close or consecutive circles. It must be noted that Amy’s name was spelled Amey, Eamy, and Eamey in the records above.

David also considered the price paid for the land and sent me a map with the location of the land. He wrote:

I also looked at the neighbors and grantees to see if there might be a family relationship given the very low price William sold his land for, but I’m not finding any right away. The price is a relative pittance compared to what land in the Shenandoah Valley was going for at the same time, but then, this was fairly remote, and I doubt William had any quantity of good bottom land that would make it more valuable. I’m attaching a map I created showing Lick Run in context of Monroe Co. with an inset showing the specific topography of Lick Run. It is a branch of Indian Creek, so the bottom land was only down by the creek. (There is another Lick Run in the SW portion of the county that emptied into Hans Creek, but looking at the other records of Tennis/Keenan/Counts-Koontz, it is apparent it is the Indian Creek one.)
William Tennis resold this land sometime after 1800 and headed to Adams Co., OH (bordering KY on the Ohio River). A list of his transactions (including the one with William) is compiled at https://www.ancestry.com/boards/localities.northam.usa.states.westvirginia.counties.monroe/439/mb.ashx. In this list are a number of land transactions from 26 June 1798 that involved William Tennis and Edward Keenan, some of which were also witnessed by John Johnson (doesn’t appear as Johnston), and one by a Thos Johnson. I wonder if either is related.

Map courtesy of David Fridley.

David refers to the land being in Monroe County. He is correct in terms of present-day geography. When William and Amy sold it in 1798 it was in the part of Greenbrier which would become Monroe County the following year.

Time to Pull up Stakes and Move on

With the sale of the land in Greenbrier County in 1798, the family of William JOHNSON and Amy NELSON were getting ready for their northwest move to Kanawha County where William died in 1805.
Next week will take us further back when I discuss how William JOHNSON came into the 150 acres he and his wife sold in 1798.

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


  1. Greenbrier County (West Virginia) County Clerk, “Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901” (non-indexed images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia), Film 593545, DGS #7765144, Deeds, v. 2 1798-1803, images 37 of 380 (page 52). Johnston to Tennis deed for 62 acres (25 June 1798, entered 26 June 1798). (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSM7-V4RY?i=36&cat=98577 : accessed 31 July 2019). 
  2. Greenbrier County (West Virginia) County Clerk, “Deeds (Greenbrier County, West Virginia), 1780-1901” (non-indexed images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Greenbrier County Courthouse in Lewisburg, West Virginia), Film 593545, DGS #7765144, Deeds, v. 2 1798-1803, image 80 of 380 (page 145). Johnston to Kounts deed for 88 acres (__ June 1798, entered 26 June 1798)(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSM7-V45L?i=79&cat=98577 : accessed 31 July 2019). 

The 1866 Fayette County, West Virginia Voter List

My friend and follower Brian S. Miller called me the record whisperer. His comment reminded me I hadn’t been checking the catalog at FamilySearch to see if new old records were available to view online. I’d been too busy working on my last series of posts on a Luxembourgish family to even think about other things.

Half of my ancestry is Luxembourgish with a few more distant ancestors coming from areas of France, Germany, and Belgium which were once part of Luxembourg. It hasn’t been difficult to find birth, marriage, and death records for these ancestors and their collaterals. My paternal side of the family tree which includes ancestors who lived in West Virginia and old Virginia for more than 200 years has been more arduous.

I have a frustrating brick wall at the 2nd great-grandfather level for one of these West Virginia ancestors. Compared to the rest of my tree, his branch is short and stubby!

A Reminder to Check the FamilySearch Catalog

Fayette County, West Virginia, is the first location I usually check for new collections as my Dad and many of his ancestors lived in the county even before its formation in 1831.

Map of West Virginia highlighting Fayette County

On Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I discovered a database I had not seen or been able to access. I can’t keep a secret when it comes to new collections which may help others. I immediately posted the find to the Facebook group for Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy.

Did your male ancestor live in Sewell Mountain, Mountain Cove, or Fayetteville in April-May 1866? If he was of age, he may have registered to vote. I found these lists on FamilySearch which include the age and place of birth of the person of interest.

Being a long-time user of the FamilySearch, I posted the link to the catalog not realizing how many group members were not familiar with this important tool on the site.

After several members commented the link was not working I revised my post. It was a long weekend and traffic to several genealogy sites was higher than normal causing temporary this site can’t be reached errors.

Screenshot of FamilySearch page with Evernote annotations.

In my revised post, I included instructions to scroll down to the camera to view the images to the non-indexed browse-only records. I added a short description of the collection which has six items for three districts with the names of voters being listed in alphabetical order. I also let new users know they needed to sign-in to the FREE site.

The 1866 Fayette County, West Virginia, Voter List

Here is the link to the collection: Register of name of voters : 1866. Since not all are familiar with FamilySearch or some may need a refresher course on using the site, here are simple steps to view the images. The link will take you to this page:

You aren’t there yet! To see all images, you need to either use the little > to go to image 2 of 154, image 3 of 154, etc. or click on the tiles icon on the left to view all images. You can then click on any of the images you might be interested in.

The items in this collection have many blank images. An item starts at the Begin image and ends at the End image. After studying the six items I learned they are for three districts – two similar copies of the same information for each district. At the end is a seventh item for the year 1867. Below are the direct links to the first page of each item for a district.

Item 1: Sewell Mountain 1

Item 2: Mountain Cove 1

Item 3: Fayetteville 1

Item 4: Sewell Mountain 2

Item 5: Fayetteville 2

Item 6: Mountain Cove 2

Item 7: Fayetteville 1867

Why is this set of records important?

Consider when the voter list was created. In 1866, three years after the state of West Virginia was formed. Immediately following the Civil War period when many records were moved to other locations or missing.

The fields on the form include:

  • Names of persons registered
  • Whether Sworn
  • Age – includes men between 21 and 84 years of age, i.e. born 1782-1845
  • Place of birth
  • Time of residence in ward, township, or district
  • Time of residence in state
  • If naturalized, date of papers and by what Court issued [in some cases this field was used to record honorable discharges from US militia service]
  • When registered

The list may be the only record you will find for the place of birth of an ancestor born between 1782-1845. Example: Enoch WOOD was in Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1830; in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1840; and in Fayette County, Virginia, in 1850 per the census. The 1850 census had all of his children listed as born in Virginia. Enoch and his wife Margaret JOHNSON had been known to be members of the Sand Fork Missionary Baptist Church in Gallia County, Ohio, before transferring to the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Fayette County. Their sons Levi and Felix WOOD are on the voter list with Gallia County as their place of birth.

Are you searching for naturalization papers? Example: Daniel McGuffin, age 36, born in Ireland, was naturalized in 1855 and his papers were filed in the County Court of Alleghany, Virginia.

The voter list could help you add events to your ancestor’s timeline. When and where was he born? Did he serve in the US militia? Was he naturalized? The voter list may be the last record your ancestor created before leaving the county or passing away.

And the search continues…

My 2nd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY was NOT found in the voter list. Family tradition is he died in a logging accident in the 1860s. Does this mean he died before April-May 1866 when the voter list was created? Perhaps. However,  the three districts didn’t cover the entire county of Fayette. Other names are missing from the voter list including William’s father-in-law Elijah WOOD who died in 1885.

If you haven’t recently checked the catalog at FamilySearch take a moment to do so. If you’ve never used the catalog an Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog is a good place to learn more.  Please leave a comment if you make a discovery. Happy hunting.

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