Wowsers! Ancestry Fixed My ThruLines

Last Sunday I gave feedback to Ancestry on my ThruLines. As I was writing the feedback message I realized it might be good material for a blog post. At the end of the feedback message, I let them know I might use it in a post.

Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines sat around in my drafts until Wednesday. I took a few moments to check my ThruLines as I’ve done every few days since they came out – getting more and more irritated.

Wowsers! Those ugly grrr!! images I’d added to my great-grandfather’s step-mother and all of her ancestors are missing.

Could it be Ancestry took my feedback into consideration and got the step-relationships fixed? Had they been ready to roll out a fix before or after I sent my feedback? Does it matter? Well, yes, I would like to know why it happened so quickly following the feedback I gave. I want to know if this step relationship bug in the ThruLines was solved for everyone or just for me.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

I’m seeing Milla Susan PETERS as my great-great-grandmother. I’ve been hoping to see her ever since they gave me Nancy Elizabeth JOHNSON, the 2nd wife of Gordon Washington ROOP, as a potential 2nd-great-grandmother showing half-cousins as full cousins.

Why, you ask, was I so excited about one ancestor being corrected? One right ancestor means I should be seeing her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in my ThruLines. All of these ancestors are from lines with many descendants who have had their DNA tested.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

Although Milla Susan’s ThruLines shows only two DNA matches, the next generations have many more matches:

  • 107 DNA matches through Jordan N. PETERS (father of Milla Susan)
  • 33 DNA matches through Rachel PROFFITT (mother of Milla Susan)
  • 68 DNA matches through Zachariah PETERS (father of Jordan)
  • 129 DNA matches through Kesiah LIVELY (mother of Jordan)
  • 113 DNA matches through David PROFFITT (father of Rachel)
  • 110 DNA matches through Sarah COCKRAM (mother of Rachel)
  • 123 DNA matches through Joseph LIVELY (father of Kesiah)
  • 128 DNA matches through Mary L. CASH (mother of Kesiah)
  • 97 DNA matches through Augustine “Austin” PROFFITT (father of David)
  • 97 DNA matches through Elizabeth “Betsy” ROBERTSON (mother of David)
  • 231 DNA matches through Edward COCKRAM (father of Sarah)
  • 232 DNA matches through Mary WORTHAM (mother of Sarah)

It’ll take time to confirm each match is a descendant of the ancestor he/she is listed under as the lines down are only as reliable as the trees ThruLines uses to make the connection. The large number of matches for the PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines was expected due to the families being large and having many descendants.

But wait! Not only was the step-relationship corrected for Milla Susan PETERS, but I am now seeing  <<drumroll>>

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

William A. W. DEMPSEY and Sarah Ann WOOD as my 2nd great-grandparents. They’ve been missing from the ThruLines since they came out.

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

William is my most frustrating brick wall. Sarah Ann’s branch and all matches associated with it are very important. I hope they will help me to sort out all the matches for her side.  This would leave only matches which will point to William’s unknown parents and ancestry. At least that is the way I believe it should work. ThruLines is showing potential parents for him which I cannot accept at this time.

Sarah Ann WOOD’s ancestry is bringing in many matches which will also have to be verified.

  • 41 DNA matches through William A. W. DEMPSEY.
  • 45 DNA matches through Sarah Ann WOOD (wife of William A. W.)
  • 87 DNA matches through Elijah WOOD (father of Sarah Ann)
  • 93 DNA matches through Rachel HONAKER (mother of Sarah Ann)
  • 92 DNA matches through William WOOD (father of Elijah)
  • 90 DNA matches through Mary Ann McGRAW (mother of Elijah)
  • 162 DNA matches through Frederick HONAKER (father of Rachel)
  • 154 DNA matches through Rachel WISEMAN (mother of Rachel)
  • 70 DNA matches through Bailey WOOD (father of William)
  • 95 DNA matches through Nancy _____ (mother of William)
  • 147 DNA matches through Martin McGRAW (father of Mary Ann)
  • 109 DNA matches through Margaret “Polly” _____ (mother of Mary Ann)
  • 173 DNA matches through Hans Jacob HONEGGER (father of Frederick)
  • 30 DNA matches through Maria GOETZ (mother of Frederick)
  • 202 DNA matches through Isaac WISEMAN (father of Rachel)
  • 204 DNA matches through Elizabeth DAVIS (mother of Rachel)

Another New Feature

Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry

ThruLines are now connected to the tree linked to a DNA test. On the pedigree view of the tree, there is now a DNA symbol in on the left to turn on this feature which adds a little blue ThruLines icon next to the ancestors’ names. William, Sarah, and Milla are ThruLines ancestors but in the pedigree view above they haven’t been updated. I discovered this about the same time my ThruLines were fixed on Wednesday.

Did the feedback I sent on Sunday to Ancestry on the ThruLines help them to get this fixed? I will likely never know. But I believe this was a lesson in giving the best feedback possible to help the team to get ThruLines working correctly. As I wrote in my feedback to them, ThruLines could be a powerful tool.

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

Dear Ancestry, My Feedback on the Step Relationship Bug in ThruLines

This is the first of two posts on Ancestry‘s ThruLines regarding an issue I have had with the new feature.

Access to ThruLines Beta is available to customers without an Ancestry subscription for a limited time.

Unfortunately, hundreds of user trees on Ancestry cannot be taken into account when building ThruLines. The Legal Genealogist went ballistic last Saturday and wrote How do we know? It’s an excellent post with an example of a user tree which cannot be taken seriously. Judy G. Russell recognized the errors in the tree but can a computer program do the same? I think not.

This is not meant to provoke negative comments concerning Ancestry and the features offered by them. This is about giving feedback concerning a known problem in hopes of getting positive results.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Dear Ancestry,

I have given feedback several times before [concerning the reason I am not satisfied with ThruLines] and will try to be more detailed as there is a bug in the system which has not been fixed.

I realize, at this time, ThruLines is a free tool on AncestryDNA. However, your long-time customers’ experience in family history research should be taken into account. We can work together to get this fixed.

The problem is a known bug in the system as other users have complained about it on social media. Some users who gave feedback say their ThruLines were “fixed” within days. I do not believe Ancestry has taken the step to go into one user’s ThruLines to fix this bug. I strongly believe it was a coincidence the users’ ThruLines were corrected after feedback. It is more likely another user’s tree, which was being used to build the connection between the ancestor and the match, had been corrected and this resolved the issue.

This is the issue I have with ThruLines’ “step bug”

I am seeing a step-parent as the parent in the ThruLines. The information is correct in my tree. No other tree is being used to create this ThruLines ancestor. Along with this step-parent, I am seeing all of her ancestors, unrelated to my line, as my ancestors in ThruLines. Not as POTENTIAL ancestors with a dotted borders – they are being shown as ANCESTORS.

  1. The ancestor who is showing up incorrectly in ThruLines is:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. The pedigree of the incorrect person in my tree:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I’ve added images to her ancestors showing they are NOT the ancestors of the home person and/or test person. [This is so that I can quickly recognize them on ThruLines.]

  1. This is her husband, my 2nd great-grandfather, in my tree. His information is correct and includes his two wives and their respective children:
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.
  1. This is the pedigree of his first wife, my 2nd great-grandmother, who along with all of her ancestors are NOT showing up in my Thrulines. There are many DNA matches for people who descend from her PETERS, LIVELY, PROFFITT, and COCKRAM lines, on the match list, but they are being ignored by ThruLines.
Screenshot courtesy of Ancestry. I included the link to this image in my feedback.

I want to stress that ONLY entries in my tree are being used for this (incorrect) ThruLines ancestor. No other user tree is being used to make this connection between the half-cousin matches whose relationship is incorrectly calculated to full cousins.

I understand the idea of ThruLines and believe it could be a powerful tool. One problem will always be the hundreds of trees which are incorrect due to sloppy research, i.e. accepting hints without looking at dates, places, names, etc.

However, in this case, the tree being used is correct and ThruLines is overriding my information and picking the wrong person in the tree. I have no experience in programming. I can only tell you where I am seeing the bug. I’m fully aware of the fact that detecting the source of the bug may be more difficult.

Thank you for your time. In hopes of a quick resolution to this problem,

Best wishes,
Cathy


I wrote the above last Sunday but didn’t want to post it on my blog without giving Ancestry had a bit more time to fix the issue.  This was the first time I included links to the specific areas where the “bug” was detected. Will this kind of feedback help resolve the issue I have with Ancestry‘s ThruLines?

Don’t miss part two tomorrow.

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

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Harvey and Hariett

Last week Edmond‘s name was released from the last will and testament of Elizabeth Clark written in 1841 and recorded in 1844. Elizabeth mentioned Frances C. Harrison and her husband John in the will.1

As I tried to follow Edmond either forward in time or back, I found John Harrison was listed in the 1840 census of Mason County. In his household were one male 10 thru 14, one male 50 thru 59, one female 50 thru 59, one female 70 thru 79, and 4 slaves. The enslaved persons in the household were 2 males under 10, a male 24 thru 35, and a female 10 thru 23.2

Was the older woman in the household Elizabeth Clark? If this was the household Elizabeth was living in, would Edmond be the young man age 24 thru 35? Or was John Harrison the holder of all four slaves?

There is a reason I looked into the Elizabeth Clark will. In 1850 my 4th great-grandmother Nancy Beasley, widow of Dennis Clonch (also seen as Claunch), was enumerated as Nancy Clonch age 75 in the household of John W. Clark age 56. Also in the household was her 12 years old grandson Dennis Clonch.3 Nancy died in the 1850s. John W. Clark was seen in the household of her son William Clonch in 1860.4 Who was this John W. Clark and was there a family connection between him and the Clonch family? Could there be other records which would clear up the matter? Those were the questions I asked as I searched for other Clark persons in the county.

At this point, I found the will of Elizabeth Clark and the census record in which she may have been enumerated. Who were John Harrison and his wife Frances C. and why were they mentioned in the Clark will?

A marriage record was found in Mason County for John Harrison and Frances Oldakers. They were married by B. K. Craig in 1834.5 As both persons were in their 50s in the 1840 household, there was the possibility one or the other was widowed prior to 1834.

Off to the Will Book for another will

John Oldaker wrote his last will and testament in June 1833 and it was recorded in November 1833.6 Did he leave a widow?

The Last Will & Testament of John Oldaker of Mason County, Virginia – 1833

I John Oldaker of the county of Mason & State of Virginia do hereby make my last will & testament in manner & form following that is to Say.
I give and bequeath all my estate that shall remain after my Just debts are paid to be disposed of as hereinafter mentioned. I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker all my estate real & personal (except Items hereinafter disposed of) for & during her natural life & after her deceas (sic) I give and bequeath the same to my grandaughter (sic) Frances J. McMullin (except Items hereinafter disposed of). I give & bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker in fee Simple to make any disposition of (during her natural life or at her Decease) she may think proper my negro man named Harvey & my Negro Girl named Hariett with her future of spring together with the sum of one Hundred Dollars.
I give and bequeath to my friend & brother in law Benjamin K. Craig my Rifle gun with the aparatus thereto belonging. In case my Grandaugher Frances J. McMullin should die under the age of twenty one years old & without a Servicing heir of her body, I give & bequeath all that otherwise would be her right & title in and to my estate to my friends Benjamin K. Craig & Polly A. Craig, his wife & their heirs. It is my will & I do hereby give & bequeath to my beloved wife Frances C. Oldaker the wright & power to convey by warrantee Deeds certain tracts of land sold by me viz. one tract to Carter Newcomb lying on Eighteen mile creek for which the said Newcomb holds my Title Bond with conditions, one other Tract to Robert Summers lying also on Eighteen mile creek for which the Said Summers holds my Title bond with conditions on their the Said Newcomb & Summers complying with the conditions in Said title bonds their Deeds are to be made. And Lastly I do hereby constitute and appoint my friends Benjamin K. Craig & Matthew D. Brower executors of this my last will & testament. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my Seal this 15th day of June 1833.
. . . . . his
John X Oldaker Seal
 . . . .mark
Signed Sealed published & declared by John
Oldaker, as & for his last will & testament
in the presence & hearing of us at his request and in his
presence here subscribed our names as witnesses.
Henry Harriss
R. Summers
Wiliam Wallace
At a court held for Mason county Nov. 4th 1833
The last will and Testament of John Oldaker decd was proved by the oaths of Henry Harriss and William Wallace subscribing witnesses thereto. And is ordered to be Recorded. Upon the motion of Benjamin K. Craig an executor named in the will of Jno. Oldaker decd who made oath thereto & together with James Craik his Securety who entered into & acknowledged their Bond in the penalty of Two thousand dollars conditioned as the law directs certificate is granted him for obtaining a probat of the Said will in due form of Law.
Teste
Thos. Lewis clerk

New Relationships

Frances C. Oldaker was the widow of John Oldaker. What was her maiden name? John Oldaker mentions his brother-in-law Benjamin K. Craig and his wife Polly A. Craig. Was this the same B. K. Craig who married Frances C. Oldaker and John Harrison in 1834?

Benjamin K. Craig married Mary A. Clark in 1826.7 If Benjamin was John’s brother-in-law, could his wife Polly A. (Mary A.) have been Frances’ sister?

This would explain Frances C. Harrison aka Frances C. Oldaker being mentioned in the will of Elizabeth Clark. There was no mention of children in the 1841 will nor did Elizabeth include a relationship descriptor for Frances other than her being the wife of John Harrison. Was Elizabeth an unmarried sister of Frances and Polly? Or an aunt or even their mother?

John Oldaker left Harvey and Hariett to his wife Frances C. in his will in 1833. Frances married John Harrison the following year. In 1840 enslaved persons were found in the household of John Harrison – a man and a woman along with two young boys. Could this couple be Harvey and Hariett whose fate was left in Frances’ hands per her first husband’s will? Or could the man be Edmond mentioned in Elizabeth’s will and the other three enslaved persons of Harrison?

The Census and Slave Schedules

No entry was found in the index of the will books of Mason County for John Harrison or Benjamin K. Craig. Neither were found in Mason the 1850 census.

Polly A. Craig died in Putnam County, West Virginia, on 10 November 1865. Her death was reported by her son Lewis Craig. He gave her deceased husband’s name as Benj. K. Craig and her parents as William & E. Clark. Polly, per her son’s information, was born in Culpepper County, Virginia.8

With this information I located the widowed Polly A. Craig in Putnam in 1850 with three children.9 She was also on the Slave Schedule with two children, an 8 yo male mulatto and a 6 yo female mulatto.10

While browsing the schedule I noticed the name John Harrison with a 32 yo black female, 11 yo black male, and a 3 yo black female. 11 Checking the census, I found John and Frances C. were living in Putnam County in 1850.12

There is a known anomality on the 1860 census of Putnam County. The enumerator recorded all persons with an initial instead of first name and middle initals. This makes it difficult to find persons when searching for first names. However by limiting the search to the surname only, I found Polly A. Craig with her children13 as well as John and Frances C. Harrison. 14 Polly and John were also on the slave schedule. Polly with a 15 yo female mulatto (possibly the 6 yo from 1850)15 and John Harrison with a 12 yo female black (possibly the 3 yo from 1850).16

The will of John Harrison was written 11 April 1867 and recorded 10 May 1867 in Putnam County.17 He mentioned his wife Frances C. Due to the lateness of this will he did not mention enslaved persons.

Edmond, who was supposed to be freed per the 1841 will of Elizabeth Clark, was not with either the Craig or Harrison families as a free person. There is no male old enough to be Edmond on the slave schedule for either Polly A. Craig or John Harrison.

From the numbers found on the slave schedules in 1850 and 1860 for John Harrison it is possible Harriet named in the Oldaker will was with John and Frances C. in 1850 with two children. She is not with them in 1860. As with Edmond, there were no males old enough to be Harvey.

Frances was found in the 1870 census in the household of her step-son Josiah Harrison.18 Frances’ first husband had given her in fee Simple to make any disposition of (during her natural life or at her Decease) she may think proper my negro man named Harvey & my Negro Girl named Hariett with her future of spring. It would seem that Harvey and Hariett were no longer with Frances C. at the time of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

One final note for anyone searching for Edmond, Harvey, and Hariett. The Craig and Harrison families likely did not move from the time of the above mentioned will until 1850 as Putnam County was created on 11 March 1848 from Kanawha, Mason and Cabell Counties.

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

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

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


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 
  3. 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, Roll: M432_959; Image 297; Virginia, Mason, District 38, image 47 of 165, Sheet No. 385A, Lines 28-30, HH #333-334, John W. Clark household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  4. 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, Roll: M653_1361; FHL Film: 805361; Virginia, Mason County, District 2, image 25 of 68; Page No. 46, Lines 21-30, HH #345-316, Wm Claunch household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  5. 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 Marriages 1853-1970. Marriage of John Harrison and Frances C. Aldakers (sic, spelling per index) (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175291&Type=Marriage : accessed 20 March 2019) 
  6. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  7. WVCulture.org, (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_mcdetail.aspx?Id=12175454 : accessed 24 March 2019) and http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175454&Type=Marriage : accessed 24 March 2019) 
  8. WVCulture.org, 1865 Death Record of Polly A. Craig (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcdetail.aspx?Id=4787281 : accessed 26 March 2019) and (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4787281&Type=Death : accessed 26 March 2019) 
  9. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 272A; Image: 213 
  10. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 8 of 8 
  11. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 3 of 8 
  12. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 280B; Image: 230 
  13. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 893; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  14. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 794; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  15. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 3 of 4, right line 32 
  16. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 2 of 4, left, line 14 
  17. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-H19H-5?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MNG%3A179687101%2C179700701 : 21 June 2016), Putnam > Will book, v. 001 1847-1937 > image 45 of 204; citing Putnam County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  18. Ancestry.com. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1698; Page: 248A; Family History Library Film: 553197 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Edmond

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

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

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

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

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

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

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

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

Edmond who shall be free at my decease

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discrepancies and Questions

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

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

Bryan in the Mason County Census

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

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

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

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

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

Other Bryan Families in Mason

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slave Name Roll Project is 4 Years Old

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2019

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

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

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

My Ancestor Score

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

My Children’s Ancestor Score

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing the Names

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

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

The U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

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

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

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

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch , originals in county courthouses, West Virginia. Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 13+14 of 215 > Last Will and Testament of Asa Squires.(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYLL-K?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : accessed 26 January 2019) 
  2. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (part of United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1850) original records in  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M432, 1,009 rolls. Virginia > Braxton > District 4 > image 1 of 2 > lines 11-18 > Asa Squires. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2019). 
  3.   1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules (part of United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Seventh Census of the United States, 1860) original records in  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.  M653, 1,438 rolls. Virginia > Braxton > District not stated > image 2 of 2 > lines 13-21 > Asa Squires. (http://ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2019). 
  4.  1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1685; History Library Film: 553184; West Virginia, Braxton, Clay, image 4 of 55, Page No. 4, Sheet No. 388B, line 11, HH #21-21, Harriet Squires household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 27 January 2018). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Alfred

In 1840 Elizabeth Squires’ (1746-1840) last will and testament written in 1830 was the first will in Will Book 1 of Braxton County with the names of enslaved persons. I shared it in Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Sarah and Benjamin back on the 1st of July. Her two youngest sons also lived in Braxton County and owned slaves whose names were mentioned in their wills.

The Squires family is not related to me. After releasing Sarah and Benjamin I had planned on continuing with the enslaved persons of her sons. However, while researching my own family tree, I found documents for two of my ancestors who had enslaved persons. I released the people’s names in Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Nan and Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Shocoe, Neaten, and Nicholas. Now it is time to get back to the Squires family and the slaves found in documents they produced.

Elizabeth’s youngest son Elijah Squires (1787-1858) wrote his last will and testament on 29 April 1858. It was recorded a little more than 4 months later on 7 September 1858.1

Last Will and Testament of Elijah Squires of Braxton County, (West) Virginia

Braxton County Will Book 2, Page 186

I, Elijah Squires of the County of Braxton and State of Virginia do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and making void all former wills by me at any time heretofore made.
First. I direct that all my debts and funeral expenses be paid as soon after my death as possible out of the first money that shall come into the hands of my executor.
2nd. I give unto my wife Elizabeth, to hold during her lifetime the following described tracts of land: to wit: one tract Beginning at a beech corner to Robert Farrar and running thence due west to a chestnutoak corner to the home place thence S12E180 poles to a white oak thence a straight line to the beginning containing about 68 acres more or less and including the dwelling house. Also one other tract of 48 acres adjoining on the north side of the above described tract and being the same which was conveyed to me by Nicholas Gibson, and further the said Elizabeth is to have, hold and possess the residue of the home farm except about 38 acres which will be bequeathed to Elijah H. Squires, untill my youngest child is of age, with this provise that if either of the three youngest children should marry before the youngest one is of the age of 21 then such married one shall be entitled to 48 acres of the same to be laid off at one side or end so as to average with the balance of the tract or when one of said children arrives to the age of 21 years whether married or not shall be entitled to a like quantity laid off on the same principal.
I further will and bequeathe to the said Elizabeth the following personal property to wit: one grey mare and the young dun mare and three milks cows and also four of my young cattle such as she may choose to select, and also one third of my sheep of the average of the flock.
I also bequeath to her one waggon and harness for three horses, and one hill side plough and one wind mill. She is allso to have all the household and kitchen furniture if she chooses.
3rd. I give and bequeath to the heirs of my son Taylor Squires decd. a tract of about 30 acres of land adjoining a tract of 100 acres which I formerly gave to him, and bounded as follows, towit: beginning at a sour gum corner to said 100 acre tract and running thence in a line of the same S8E150 poles to a stake, thence N35E100 poles to a stake on a line of tract of land which Asa Squires is to have, thence in said line N49 1/2W104 poles to the beginning.
4th. I give and bequeath to my son Asa Squires for and during his natural life and at his deceace to the heirs of his body, the following described tract of land on Salt Lick creek, and bounded as follows, to wit. beginning at a stake which will be corner to Elijah H. Squires on a line of a 100 acre Survey which was made for Nicholas Gibson and Elijah Squires and running Thence S39E81 poles to a stake on the Hobson line. Thence in said line S35W180 poles to a stake N49 1/2W155 poles to a sour gum corner to Taylor Squires heirs, N33E14 poles to a Sycamore, N65E crossing said creek to a line of land sold by Wm Sisk to Jesse Farrar. Thence down the creek and with lines of said Farrar to where Farrars line will cross a line running due North from the rock corner in the field, thence with said due North line to said Elijah H. Squires line and in the same to the beginning estimated to contain 160 acres.
5th. I give and bequeath to my son James Squires the following described tract of land on Salt Lick Creek to be laid off as follows, beginning at a beech corner to a 700 acre Survey made for said Gibson & Squires and running thence in a line of the same N39W to the Sugar Camp hollow, thence up said hollow to where line to the said creek will include 125 acres by running up said creek with the meanders to the beginning.
6th. I give and bequeath to my son Elijah

Braxton County Will Book 2, Page 187

H. Squires the following described tract of land including his place of residence and bounded as follows to wit: Beginning at a blackoak corner to Robert Farrar and running thence S 8 1/2W200 poles to a stake thence N7E38 poles to a blackoak corner to the home tract, thence S70 1/2E115 poles to a stake on a line of the said 700 acre survey. Thence N13E196 poles to a stake on a line of Wm Hutchison, and in the same S80W100 poles to a beech corner to same, thence with Robert Farrars lines to the beginning supposed to contain 150 acres.
7th. I give and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Hire the tract of land on which she now resides laying on Elk River and known as the Wm Harris tract, and I also bequeath unto her all the land I own adjoining the said Harris tract.
8th. I give and bequeath to my daughter Margaret E. Morrison 125 acres of the following described tract of land to be laid of below and adjoining James Squires, beginning at a stake corner to Asa and E. H. Squires and running thence N13E196 poles to Wm Hutchison line, thence in the same N80E100 poles crossing Salt Lick Creek and Hughes fork to a Sycamore, thence down said fork to its mouth, thence up said creek with its meanders to James Squires corner and with one of his lines to his corner in Sugar Camp hollow, then down said hollow to another of his corners on a line of said 700 acre survey, thence in the last mentioned line to the beginning.
9th. I give and bequeath to my daughter Caroline M. Murphey or the heirs of her body all the residue of my lands not disposed of and particularly described by this will and if after the portions heretofore and hereafter to be named in this will shall be surveyed out, there should not be enough left to make an average share then she is to have enough of the proceed of my personal property to place her on an equal footing with the balance of my heirs.
10th. I give and bequeath unto my three youngest children Franklin F. Squires, Lydia Ann Squires and Elizabeth J. Squires the residue of the home farm not directly willed to my wife or to Elijah H. Squires to be equall divided amongst them amounting to about 48 acres each and at the death of their mother that portion of the land in which she had a life estate is also to be equally divided between the said Franklin F. Squires, Lydia Ann Squires and Elizabeth J. Squires, and I hereby bequeath the same unto them or their heirs, but their right of possession not to commence untill the life estate of their mother shall cease.
11th. I will and direct that all my personal property except my negro man Alfred and one colt which has not been disposed of by this will be valued by Harvey Hire and William Sisk or some other two disinterested (marked out) discreet (written above) men and after so valued to be divided as equal as possible amongst all my heirs according to valuation, the colt above excepted I give to my son Franklin.
12th. I will and direct that my negro man Alfred shall belong equally to my wife Elizabeth and children so that they will all be equally bound to maintain him if it should so happen that before he dies he should not be able to maintain himself, but he is to be at liberty to choose with which of them he will stay or his time may be divided amongst them by agreement but he must earn his living so long as he is able.
13th. I do hereby make and ordain my wife Elizabeth Executrix of this my last will

Braxton County Will Book 2, Page 188

and testament. In witness whereof I, Elijah Squires the testator, have to this will written on one sheet of paper, set my hand and seal this 29. day of April in the year of our Lord 1858.

Elijah Squires *seal*

Signed sealed and delivered in the presence
of us, who have subscribed in the presence
of each other
Attest.  Harvey F. Hyer
. . . . . . . Wm Sisk
. . . . . . . Wm P. Haymond

At a County Court held in and for the County of Braxton at the courthouse of said County on Tuesday the 7th day of September 1858.
The last will and testament of Elijah Squires deceased was proved by the oaths of Wm P Haymond & Harvey F. Hyer witnesses thereto & is ordered to be recorded.

Teste Jno. P. Byrne clk

The U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

In 1850 Elijah Squires was listed on the slave schedule of Braxton County, Virginia (now West Virginia) with one black male who was 30 years old. This young man was the only enslaved person noted for Elijah.

Alfred, per the above will, was given the choice of who he wanted to stay with after Elijah’s death. In 1860 the slave schedule does not include the names of Elijah’s widow or any of his children mentioned in the will. Only one Squires is listed, Asa, the brother of Elijah. He did not have a male slave around 40 years old in 1860.

Speculation on the identity of Alfred

What happened to Alfred after the death of Elijah Squires? Did he have a family and are there living descendants who are looking for him?

A chapter entitled “Tragedies” in John Davison Sutton’s  History of Braxton County and central West Virginia includes this short statement on page 307:

Alfred Squires, a colored man, inmate of the county infirmary, was burned to death about 1902. He was alone at the time and was lying in bed smoking. The bed caught fire and he was too aged and infirm to help himself, and perished in the flames. 

I was unable to find a death record for a man named Alfred Squires. However, the 18702 and 18803 census turned up an Alfred Cox with his wife Mary Jane. He was the only black in the county of Braxton with the first name Alfred. His age matches the age seen on the 1850 slave schedule for the enslaved male seen for Elijah Squires. There were no children in the households in 1870 or 1880.

I located a death record for Alfred Cox who died in an accident on 3 October 1896 at the age of 81.4 The informant for the death was Wm. McCoy, superintendent. The circumstances of the accident which caused the death are not mentioned in the entry on the death register.

In 1900 one William M. McCoy was the head of a household marked off as the county poor farm.5 The McCoy household included persons who were identified as inmates of the poor house. Could this be the county infirmary mentioned in the Braxton history? Could the estimated year of death of Alfred Squires be off by about six years?

Were Alfred Cox and Alfred Squires the same person? Did Alfred, the enslaved man of Elijah Squires, use the surname Cox? Hopefully the information found and mentioned in this post will help others who are researching the persons named.

Elijah Squires’ brother Asa also left a last will and testament in Braxton County. It will be shared in next month’s post.

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

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

© 2018, 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-HYGF-Y?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-M6S%3A179688701%2C179735201 : accessed June 2018), Braxton > Will book, v. 002 1854-1861 > image 114-115 of 180; county courthouses, West Virginia. 
  2.  1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1685; FHL Film: 553184; West Virginia, Braxton County, Franklin, image 32 of 32, Page No. 32, Sheet No. 429B, Lines 20-21, HH #213-213, Alfred Cox household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed accessed 30 September 2018). 
  3.  1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1400; West Virginia, Braxton County, Holly, image 16 of 43, Enumeration District No. 7, Page No. 16, Sheet No. 413D, Lines 31-32, HH #144-144, Alfred Cox household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed accessed 30 September 2018). 
  4.  West Virginia Vital Research Records (index and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (online searchable database and digital images of selected birth, death and marriage records), FHL microfilm 572,705; Alfred Cox, 03 Oct 1896; citing Braxton Co., West Virginia, County Records, county courthouses, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4568794&Type=Death : accessed 30 September 2018). 
  5.  1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241756; West Virginia, Braxton County, Otter, image 40 of 68, Enumeration District No. 7, Sheet No. 20B, Lines 65-78, HH #347-347, William M. McCoy household (county poor farm). (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 September 2018). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Shocoe, Neaten, and Nicholas

Our ancestors didn’t live in bubbles. Their interaction with others can often help with the research questions we have – or the questions others have about their own ancestors.

Last month my search for the parents of my 6th great-grandmother Elizabeth Smith (ca. 1737-1793) of Amherst County, formerly of Goochland County, was not successful. But it led to the inventory of a man named John Smith whose goods and chattels were inventoried on 29 January 1755 in Goochland County, Virginia. The inventory included an enslaved person named Nan. She was not the only person I found while trying to solve the question of who Mr. and Mrs. Smith may have been.

Often I find myself reviewing an ancestor’s documentation, checking what has been looked into and what may still need to be searched for. These bits and pieces bring our ancestors’ stories to life. Elizabeth Smith’s story includes a husband and children. She married David Proffitt on 7 April 1757 in St. James Northam Parish, Goochland County, Virginia. When I skimmed over his timeline I realized I didn’t have a record to support his date of death.

To prove when he had died, or at least narrow down an estimate for when the event may have taken place, I checked the Will Books of Amherst County, Virginia. The Letters of Administration for his estate, his Inventory, and Guardian Bond for his grandchildren Augustine and David (my 4th great-grandfather), the sons of his deceased son Augustine (my 5th great-grandfather), were found.

1803 Letters of Administration for John and Rowland Proffitt

On the 19th of April 1803, John and Rowland Proffitt were bound as administrators of the estate of the deceased David Proffitt. John and Rowland were his two oldest sons. They were given letters of administration as their father did not leave a last will and testament.1

1803 Inventory of David Proffitt of Amherst County, Virginia

On the 6th day of May 1803, three undersigned subscribers appraised the Estate of David Profitt decd.

Inventory of the estate of David Profitt (part 1)

The inventory began with:

One old negro man Shocoe £25
one negro woman Neaten £80
one negro boy Nicholas £65

and continued with livestock, tools, household goods, furniture, etc. from the estate of David Profitt (as the name was spelled).2

Inventory of the estate of David Profitt (part 2)

Given under our hands the 6th day of May 1803.
Shelton Crosthwait
Charles Edmunds
Zachary White.

At a court held for Amherst County the 20th day of June 1803. This Inventory & Appraisement of the Estate of David Profitt decd was this day returned into Court & ordered to be Recorded.3

Releasing: Shocoe, Neaten, and Nicholas

My 6th great-grandfather David Proffitt died before 19 April 1803, the date his sons were bound as administrators of his estate. He likely died the same or previous month.

Tax lists for Amherst County are available free online on Binns Genealogy for the years 1782, 1790, and 1799. These show David had one enslaved person in 1782 and 1790 and two in 1799. Shocoe may have been part of David’s household as early as 1782 as he was described as an old man. Did Neaten become part of the household between 1790 and 1799? What about Nicholas? Was he a son of Shocoe and Neaten, or only of Neaten, or neither of them? Did he become part of the household in the period between 1790 and 1799 or only after 1799?

At the time of David’s death there were ten living children, only my 5th great-grandfather Augustine pre-deceased his father. I have only found the 1830 administrator’s bond and inventory for the estate of John Proffitt, David’s oldest son. There were no enslaved persons in the inventory. Will Shocoe, Neaten, or Nicholas be found with one or more of the other children of David Proffitt? Future research may answer this question.

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.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1.  “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Amherst Will Books, Vol 3-4, 1786-1810, Will Book 4, page 366, image 538 of 673. Letters of Administration for the estate of David Proffitt. (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018). 
  2.  Ibid., Will Book 4, page 117, image 412 of 673. Inventory of the estate of David Profitt(part 1). (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018). 
  3. Ibid., Will Book 4, page 118, image 413 of 673. Inventory of the estate of David Profitt (part 2). (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018). 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Nan

Vera Marie Badertscher wrote a post recently on her blog Ancestors in Aprons about an ancestor she had been reluctant to research. In her post, Anne Marie Smith, Church and Family, I was reminded I have an ancestress whose maiden name was Smith and I had also been ignoring her.

My 6th great-grandparents David Proffitt and Elizabeth Smith married in St. James Northam Parish, Goochland County, Virginia, on 7 April 1757. This was recorded by Rev. William Douglas who kept a register from 1750 to 1797 known as The Douglas register. It is a detailed record of births, marriages, and deaths for St. James Northam Parish. The entry for David and Elizabeth’s marriage does not give the names of their parents but it does indicate they were both of the St. James Northam Parish.

Who were her parents? (Spoiler: I’m still searching!) Which Smith families were living in the parish at the time? Since this register included births, marriages, and deaths I checked to see if there were any Smith’s who might have been married at the time my Elizabeth Smith was born. I estimate her birth at about 1736, assuming she was 21 at the time of her marriage in 1757. The only marriage in the parish which was a possibility was for a John Smith and Susannah Raison on 7 October 1736. There are also birth entries for six children of this couple in the register. None were named Elizabeth.

I then took a different approach. In hopes of finding a will mentioning Elizabeth Proffitt formerly Elizabeth Smith as a daughter of a Mr. [first name unknown] Smith, I checked the wills of Goochland County for the time period. I found a John Smith whose inventory was presented and ordered to be recorded in Goochland County court on 18 February 1755. This John Smith could not be the same John Smith seen above as his wife Susannah gave birth to twins 29 November 1756, nearly two years later.

Although I cannot confirm John Smith whose goods and chattels were inventoried on 29 January 1755 was related to my 6th great-grandmother Elizabeth Smith, I did discover this man likely owned a slave named Nan. The inventory list does not stipulate Nan was a man, woman, or child but the value given on the list certainly points to Nan being an enslaved person.

1755 Inventory of John Smith of Goochland County, Virginia

1755 Inventory of John Smith of Goochland County, Virginia. Source: “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (images), Ancestry.com, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Goochland Deed Books With Wills, Inventories, Vol 6-8, 1749-1765, Will Book 6, page 449, image 243 of 719. (Ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 2018).

Inventory of the Goods & Chattles of John Smith Decd of Goochland County January the 29th 1755.
Nan £35
1 Horse
1 Maire
4 Iron Potts
1 Tub 2 old pans 1 Cask 1 old Tub 1 pail 3 Piggens
1 brass kettle 1 bottle 1 looking Glass 1/2 Dozn. knives & forks
1 Ladle 1 Tub 2 Sifters 1 Can 4 hoes 2 Iron Wedges
5 Hoes 2 broad axes 1 Saddle 2 bridles 1 womans saddle
1 Coller & Hames 1 bag 2 Books
1 Bed & furniture
1 Dito & Dito
1 Chest 1 Trunk 1 Butter Pott 1 Bos
A percill of puter
2 Mugs 2 Vials 2 Ticklers 1 drinking Glass gra?
2 Rasors 1 pr. Spectacles 1 lb. Shott 1 box Iron & heters
1 Skillett 1 pr. Tongues & Shovell 1 Gun
1 peper Box Ink Glass 1 Candlestick & tin Can
1 Cross Cutt 2 Chairs 1 pr. Shares
a parcell of Carpenders Tools Shoe Tools
7 head of  Cattle 1 Trowel Hoe

In Obediance to an Order of Goochland Court We the Subscribers being first Sworn have Appraised the Estate of John Smith Decd. Given under our Hands.
John Mosely
Charles Rice
Joseph Pace
At a Court held for Goochland County February 18th 1755 This Inventory was presented in Court and Ordered to be Recorded.
Teste. Val Wood, Clerk

The search was not fruitful for the parents of my Elizabeth Smith. However, I also took another look at her husband David Proffitt and realized I did not have records proving his date of death. The Proffitt or Prophet line is yet another I have been reluctant to research. I located the Letters of Administration for his estate, his Inventory (which also included names of enslaved persons), and Guardian Bond for his grandchildren David (my 4th great-grandfather) and Augustine, the sons of his deceased son Augustine (my 5th great-grandfather). I’d like to thank Vera for pushing me to take a closer look at ancestors I’ve been ignoring.

Last month I shared Elizabeth Squires’ last will and testament when I released the names of Sarah and Benjamin. I had planned on continuing with her two sons who also left wills with slaves named. However, releasing the name of Nan who I found while searching for my unknown Smith 7th great-grandfather took precedence. Next up, in a week, will be the names found in the inventory of David Proffit. Elijah and Asa Squires’ wills will be shared during August.

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.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.