Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Mark, Mary, Jane, Dick, and Eliza

Last month in Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Letty, Cyrus, and Nelson the slaves of William Bell who died before 10 August 1825 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia were released.

In 1842 Elizabeth Bell, a daughter of William Bell, married William Hutchison. He was previously married and had children. In 1850 the William Hutchison household included two of William Bell’s daughters, Jane T. Bell age 53 and Hutchison’s wife Elizabeth age 50.

On the 1850 slave schedule, William Hutchison and Jane Bell are listed one after the other. William had a female black age 26 and a male black age 16 in 1850.

Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules > Virginia > Braxton

In 1860 William Hutchison had one female black age 33, one male black age 24, one female mulatto age 17, one male mulatto age 13, and one female black age 11.

Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules > Virginia > Braxton > page 1 of 2

Hannah J. Hutchison was the informant on the death of her father William Hutchison on 16 May 1866. In his last will and testament written on 6 July 1861 he mentions five slaves: Mark, Mary, Jane, Dick, and Eliza.

The Last Will and Testament of William Hutchison of Braxton County, West Virginia

 

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYL4-R?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 21 June 2016), Braxton > image 49 of 215; county courthouses, West Virginia.

I William Hutchison of the County of Braxton & State of Virginia do make and publish this my last will and testament whereby revoking and making void all formerly wills by me heretofore made: 1st: I direct that all my debts and funeral expenses be paid as soon after my decease as possible out of the first moneys that shall come into the hands of my Executor from any portion of my real or personal estate which I direct to be sold, bonds & e; 2nd: I give and bequeath to my wife Elizabeth Hutchison the farm on which I now reside which is embraced in the following boundary to wit: Beginning on the line of the survey conveyed by Nicholas Gibson to me, below the house and running a westerly course with the division fence between the lands occupied by myself & Felix Hutchison & continuing same course to Salt Lick Creek, thence up the Creek with the lines of the deed from said Gibson till where a line running with the fence which is between the land occupied by Nathan M. Hutchison & myself & with said line to the corner of the fence in the impovement (sic) the (sic) with the fence along the edge of the corn & old field to the edge of the wods (sic), thence a straight line along the lower end to the original line, thence continuing course about 10 pole, thence a straight line crossing Toms fork at two sugar trees one on each side & running to the top of the point that is opposite the house, Thence up the point along the top to the out line of a tract conveyed to me by C. Hall, C.S. Hurley, H.A. Holt and John S. Hoffman & with lines of same to join the lines of the Gibson Survey & with lines of same to the beginning, to have and to hold during her natural life time, Also my negro Slaves Mark, Mary, Jane and Dick during her lifetime, two head (sic), Six head of cattle which is to be selected by her, also my my (sic) sheep and hogs, farming implements, the grain on hands, also all the grain and grass that is on the land; Jane T. Bell is to have a maintenance to be made of the place during her natural life provided she remains on the place. Also Hannah Jane Hutchison is to have a maintenance to be made off the place during her lifetime or while she lives single provided she remains on the place, and at the decease of my wife Elizabeth, I desire that the above described tract of land be sold upon a credit of one, two, three and four years, also the property that is not made use of if any to be sold on a credit of twelve months & retaining a lien on the land to secure the payment of the purchase money & the proceeds to be applied as followeth viz: Jane T. Bell & Hannah J. Hutchison is annually to receive forty dollars each provide they live single or untill the time they marry then to cease, the residue, fifty dollars to my son Joseph Hutchison in addition to what he has received and debts which I have paid for him, the remainder to be divided into five equal parts, one part to Nathan Hutchison, one to Hannah Jane, one to Felix, one to Miles M. Hutchison, and one to Virginia Kniceley, their heirs & assigns forever. But at the time Hannah Jane receives any portion of her part the the (sic) above annuity of forty dollars is to cease. I also direct that my negro slaves Mark & Mary to have their freedom agreeable to the laws of Virginia at the death of my wife Elizabeth, and Jane and Dick to have their freedom when they arrive to the age of thirty years, agreeable to the laws of Virginia. 3rd: I also give & bequeath to my son Nathan M. Hutchison a certain boundary of land being the upper end of the Gibson Survey and running with the lines of the tract described in the second clause of this instrument and containing all that part of the Gibson Survey that lies between that line and John G. Morrisons line, to him, his heirs and assigns forever. 4th: I give and bequeath to my Daughter Hannah Jane Hutchison the following described tract or parcel of land and bounded as followeth, Beginning at a bunch of white walnuts standing on the bank of Salt Lick corner to land belonging to Eugenes Haymond & with his line a northerly course and passing his corner to the line of the original survey & with same to to (sic) top of the ridge thence along top of the ridge to a line of a Survey made for Morgan Dyer & with same to the Gibson Survey & with a line of same to the lower end of a fence thence crossing Toms fork and running up a steep bank thence along the hill side to the sharp point near the mouth of Toms fork thence to the ford of Toms fork, thence down the creek to the beginning to her and her bodily heirs forever. 5th: I give and bequeath to my son Felix Hutchison The following described tract or parcel of land bounded as viz: Beginning at the mouth of Toms fork thence up Salt Lick Creek to join the tract described in the second clause and with the same reversed to join the tract described in the 4th clause, and with same to the beginning to him his heirs & assigns forever. 6th: I give and bequeath to my son Miles M. Hutchison the described tract or parcel of land, Beginning on the hill side on the right hand side of Toms fork on a line of the tract describe (sic) in second clause an (sic) running with same crossing Toms fork and up the ridge to a line of the original survey and with same to a beech corner on the branch, on a branch which runs down from T. C. Cogers and down said branch to Toms fork & down said _ till the upper end of the hacking & crossing and running up the hill about 20 pole, thence along the hill side about twenty pole from the run cornering at different places to the beginning to him, his heirs and assigns forever. 7th: I give and bequeath to my Daughter Virginia Kniceley the place where she now resides and known as the Coger place containing one hundred acres together with twenty acres to be run off an eight hundred acre Survey conveyed to me by Joseph & C.E. Singleton, to join the line which runs from a chesnut to a beech & on the south west side of the 100 acres, to her, her heirs and assigns forever. 8th: I direct that all my personal property not heretofore mentioned be sold upon a credit of twelve months, and all lands which I

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYLS-Y?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 22 June 2016), Braxton > image 50 of 215; county courthouses, West Virginia.

may have except such as before mentioned to be sold on a credit of one two and three year, and the moneys arising from bonds obligations, sale of property and land be applied to the payment of my just debts, and to effectuate this intention I do hereby vest in my Executor full power and authority to dispose of such real estate in fee simple or by special warrantee as he may think best, as I could myself do if living, and if there should be any surplus in the money arising from the sale of the last mentioned land, property & bonds I direct that such surplus if any be equally divided with my wife and six children. 9th: I give and bequeath my Daughter Hannah Jane Hutchison my Negro girl Eliza, to her, her heirs and assigns forever. 9th: If any of the lands heretofore bequeathed should be taken with any other title I direct that they be made equal to the other heirs out of the the (sic) proceeds of the sale of the home place. I Testimony I have signed and seal this my last will and testament this 6th day of July 1861.
William Hutchison *Seal*

West Virginia County of Braxton S.S.
Recorder’s Office September 10th 1866 being the 2d Monday in the month The following proceedings were had before the Recorder of said County.
A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Wm Hutchison deceased was produced before me in my office, and there being no subscribing witness thereto, Allen S. Berry, David H. Bright, Homer A. Holt, and Wm L. Corley, were sworn, and severally deposed that they are well acquainted with the testators hand writing and verily believe the the (sic) said writing and the name thereto subscribed to be wholly written by the testators own hand, whereupon, the said writing is ordered to be recorded as the true last will and testament of the said Wm Hutchison deceased.
Teste. M. H. Morrison Recorder

Are Mark, Mary, Jane, Dick, and Eliza the names of the slaves seen on the 1860 slave schedule: one female black age 33, one male black age 24, one female mulatto age 17, one male mulatto age 13, and one female black age 11? I tried to find persons in the 1870 who would match these five. I believe I may have traced Mark and Eliza but cannot bring forth positive proof and therefore will not share the guesswork in this post.

bestwishescathy1

True's statementFollowing my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father 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 which can be found on Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog Tangled Roots and Trees

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Letty, Cyrus, and Nelson

RELEASING: One old Negro woman, 1 Negro woman named Letty, one Negro boy named Cyrus, one Negro boy named Nelson, and a child born to Letty.
In Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, William Bell died before 10 August 1825. He did not leave a will. An appraisement and inventory of his estate were ordered on 10 August 1825 and a list was made on 24 August 1825 by four commissioners.
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L57-N?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 23 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L56-X?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 24 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.

On the second page of the inventory and appraisement are four slaves who were held by William Bell.

1 old Negro woman valued at nothing from old age
1 Negro woman aged 30 named Letty valued at 250
1 Negro boy named Syrus 150
1 Negro boy named Nelson. Deformed (value blank)

The estate sale took place on 17 November 1825.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L56-X?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 24 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.

The enslaved people of William Bell were not sold at the estate sale and the estate was not settled until 1833.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L59-V?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 51 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.
“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-4L5R-F?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1PJ%3A179686001%2C179686002 : 22 June 2016), Nicholas > image 52 of 158; county courthouses, West Virginia.

On the second page of the 1833 settlement of the estate two slaves named in the inventory, Letty and Cyrus, were found.

By the sale of Letty and her child under a Trust deed 100.-
By sale of Cyrus under Trust deed 100.-

I checked the 1820 census and found William Bell was over 45 years old, with a woman who was also over 45 years old (wife), and seven other persons (2 females under 10, 1 female 10 thru 15, and 4 females 16 thru 25. Slaves in the household were: 2 males under 14, 1 male 14 thru 25, and 1 female 14 thru 25 (Letty).

By 1830, after William Bell had died, there were 2 females 15 thru 19 and 3 females 20 thru 29 in the household of Mary Bell who was 60 thru 69. I assumed Mary was the wife of William Bell. Further research shows this to be the correct household. In her household were five slaves: 2 males under 10 (Cyrus age 9), 1 male 10 thru 23, 1 female 24 thru 35 (Letty), and 1 female 55 thru 99 (old unnamed woman).

In 1840 Mary Bell was found in the newly formed Braxton County. She had 2 females 30 thru 39 in her household and she was seen as 60 thru 69. She still owned slaves: 2 males under 10, 1 male 10 thru 23 (Cyrus age 19), 1 males 36 thru 54, 1 female 10 thru 23, and 1 female 24 thru 35 (Letty).

In 1842 Elizabeth Bell, a daughter of William Bell, married William Hutchison. He was previously married and had children. In 1850 the Hutchison household included Jane T. Bell age 53, Hutchison’s wife Elizabeth age 50, and his children from the first marriage. On the slave schedule, William Hutchison and Jane Bell are listed one after the other. Jane Bell appears to have Cyrus age 33 and Letty age 52 as well as another male age 54, likely the male seen in her mother’s household in 1840.

Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules > Virginia > Braxton

In 1860 Jane Bell was still living in the household of her brother-in-law William and her sister Elizabeth. Although there was an entry for William Hutchison, there was no entry for Jane Bell on the 1860 Slave Schedule. The possible names of the slaves of William Hutchison will be shared in a later post.

Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules > Virginia > Braxton > page 1 of 2

In 1866 Hannah J. Hutchison was the informant on the death of her step-mother Elizabeth on 28 February, for Jane T. Bell on 21 March, and for her father William on 16 May.

The last will and testament of Jane T. Bell was located in Braxton County, West Virginia. She mentions Letty and Cyrus.

“West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HY21-J?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-MZJ%3A179688701%2C179750901 : 21 June 2016), Braxton > Will book, v. 003 1862-1879 > image 52 of 215; county courthouses, West Virginia.

                                               Jane T. Bell’s Will
I, Jane T. Bell of Braxton County, Virginia being of sound mind do make this my last will & testatment. First. I give and bequeath unto my two slaves Letty and Cyrus their freedom if they will accept of it according to the laws of Virginia. And if the said slaves do no make choice of Emancipation my will and desire is that they may have the right to make choice of their masters. 2nd. I give and bequeath unto my sister Elizabeth Hutchison all the real and personal property of every kind that I may have at the time of my decease & all money or bonds that is due me at that time except the two above named slaves. Signed and sealed this first day of November 1858.
In the presence of                                                            Jane T. Bell *Seal*
Nathan Hutchison                                                                 her + mark
Felix Hutchison
Braxton County SS.
Recorders Office October 9th 1866. A writing purporting to be the last will and testament of Jane T. Bell decd was this day proven before the undersigned Recorder of Braxton County by the oaths of Nathan Hutchison & Felix Hutchison the subscribing witnesses thereto who declared on oath that the testator acknowledged this will in their presence and that each of said witnesses subscribed the said will in the presence of the testator. And thereupon the said will is admitted to record.
                                                                Teste. M. H. Morrison Recorder

By 1870, Cyrus and Letty were free persons and using the Bell surname. Although not free at the time Jane wrote her will, they became free people with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 when slavery was abolished. In 1870 Cyrus was seen with Sarah E. 34 and children Eliza A. 15, Mary J. 12, Margaret E. 6, and Cora 2. Also in his household were John Alexander age 68 and Letty B. Bell age 70.

Year: 1870; Census Place: Clay, Braxton, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1685; Page: 400A; Image: 140850; Family History Library Film: 553184 (Ancestry.com : accesssed 26 March 2017)

Letty‘s 1876 death record shows she died at the age of 84 years 4 months in October 1876. Her parents were unknown and she was born in Augusta County, Virginia. She was a farmer and died of old age. Cyrus Bell was the informant and his relationship is seen as son of the deceased.

By 1880 the family of Cyrus Bell had increased by four with the births of William 1871, Ruskia 1874, Julia 1877, and Alison 1880. Sarah and Cyrus were not legally married until 11 May 1877. Sarah died 6 October 1887. Marriages were found for several daughters, three married men with the surname Johnson. I was not able to find them in 1900 or later. No death record was found for Cyrus who died after the 1900 census.

After finishing this post, I did a quick search for Letty and Cyrus to see if I had overlooked any kind of information already on the internet. I found a page with information on Braxton County African Americans in the Census and African Americans in the Braxton County 1880 Census.

I began this post, intending to share only the transcription of the documents with the names of the slaves. However, I could not leave it there. The genealogist wanted to follow the people. And because I did, I learned Letty was Cyrus’ mother. And this in turn makes me wonder if the older woman mentioned in the inventory and appraisement may have been Letty’s mother.

bestwishescathy1

True's statementFollowing my three part series on the slaves of my 5th grand-father 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 which can be found on Schalene Jennings Dagutis’ blog Tangled Roots and Trees

© 2017, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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52 Ancestors: #52 Levina DOSS – Another Unmarried Mother and How She Helped Me Bring This Challenge Finale to an End with a Bang!

“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #52 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

I’d apologize for the long title but I couldn’t resist! Thank you, Amy Johnson Crow, for a wonderful journey. To all my readers, thank you for coming back time and time again. After reading the last entry for this year, I’d appreciate it if you would please leave a comment letting me know what you liked, disliked, loved or even hated about this challenge. Thank you and Happy New Year!

52 Ancestors: #52 Levina DOSS – Another Unmarried Mother and
How She Helped Me Bring This Challenge Finale to an End with a Bang!

One unmarried mother in my family tree would be easy to take. But two is a bit harder especially since they were mother and daughter. In July I wrote about my 3rd great-grandmother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS being a single mother. Her mother, my 4th great-grandmother, Levina DOSS was also a single mother.

Vapittsylvania
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Accessed online: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/File:Vapittsylvania.jpg

The Doss family had strong roots in Halifax and Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In 1755 Levina’s grandfather James DOSS Sr. received a land grant for 272 acres in Halifax County, an area soon to become part of the newly created Pittsylvania County in 1767. This land grant was located adjacent to Beechtree Creek and Staunton River.

Pittsylvania County lies in south midland Virginia, bordering on the North Carolina line. Bordering counties are Bedford (northwest), Campbell (northeast), Halifax (east), Caswell in North Carolina (southeast), Rockingham in North Carolina (southwest), Henry (west/southwest), and Franklin (west/northwest).

Parents and Siblings of Levina DOSS

My 4th great-grandmother Levina DOSS was born between 1771-1775 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to James DOSS Jr. and his wife Elizabeth[1]. James was born about 1742 in Amelia County, he married Elizabeth about 1771 and died 1812 in Pittsylvania. Levina had 5 known siblings:

Sib 1: Elizabeth DOSS (1772-1830) born about 1772. Elizabeth DOSS married Ebenezer ANGEL (1769-1850) on 15 December 1794 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. She died between 1830-1840.
Sib 2: Phillip Valorius DOSS (1775-1814) born about 1775. Phillip married Rhoda Elizabeth THURMAN (1787-1850) about 1804 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He died before 14 June 1814 (date that his widow Rhoda was mentioned in court records). Descendants of this line might be interested in some old photos that Vickie Beard Thompson posted on her blog I Dig My Roots and Branches.
Sib 3: Mary Ann DOSS (1780- ) born about 1780 [I am not very comfortable with this estimate considering her marriage in 1811]. She married(1) Preston DUDLEY (1773-1816) on 2 January 1811 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. She may have married(2) James BELL about 1820.
Sib 4: William DOSS (1785-1820) born about 1785. William married Martha CREWS (1789- ) on 29 April 1812 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.[1] He died before 1820.
Sib 5: Edward DOSS (1795-1850) born about 1795. Edward married Nancy MITCHELL (1803-1860) on 19 December 1822 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He died before 1850.

The 1790, 1800, and 1810 census of Pittsylvania County are lost but a substitute is available. The loss is unfortunate and the substitute is wonderful but doesn’t do for me what the 1810 census would have done. I was hoping to see what the household of James DOSS looked like in 1810 and if his daughter Levina had her own household or was living in her father’s home with her three children.

Levina’s father James DOSS Jr. died about 1812 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Levina’s Life as a Mother

In 1820 Levina DOSS was living in Pittsylvania County most likely on or near the land granted to her grandfather in 1755. She was an unmarried mother and the head of a household that included her four sons, two daughters, and most likely her mother Elizabeth who was widowed about 1812.

1820censusdoss
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Pittsylvania (ancestry.com)

1820 U.S. Federal Census
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Levina Doss
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (William b. abt. 1811 & Phillip b. abt. 1814)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (unknown son b. bet. 1804-1810)
Note: no males 16-18 yo (therefore Thomas was 19 & under 26 yo)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Thomas b. abt. 1801)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (Mary E. b. abt. 1816)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (unknown daughter born bet. 1795-1804)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Levina b. abt. 1775)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1 (poss. mother Elizabeth b. abt. 1750)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 2
Free White Persons – Under 16: 4
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 8

By 1830 Levina had given birth to another daughter she named after her mother. Young Elizabeth and my 3rd great-grandmother Mary E. were the only children still living at home. Next door was Levina’s son William with his wife and young son. Also next door was her brother-in-law Eben ANGEL, a Baptist minister, with his wife, Levina’s sister Elizabeth and their children.

1830censusdoss
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Pittsylvania (ancestry.com)

1830 U.S. Federal Census
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Page No. 348
Levina Doss
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Elizabeth bet. 1821-1825)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Mary E. b. abt. 1816)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Levina, b. 1771-1775)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 3

As can be seen in the above listing Levina’s mother, or the older woman who had been seen in her household in 1820, was no longer with her. Let’s take a look at another person who was very close to Levina on this census.

1830doss
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Pittsylvania (ancestry.com)

1830 United States Federal Census
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Name: Bettsy Doss
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 2 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – 70 thru 79: 1 (“Bettsy” widow of James DOSS)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 4

If the lady who was the head of household was also the older female then her age was 70 and under 80 years and could have been Levina’s widowed mother. Who was the younger lady living with Elizabeth in 1830? Was she a granddaughter with two small children? She couldn’t have been a daughter-in-law with such young children as Phillip and William died before 1820 and Edward was living in Campbell County.

Levina DOSS and her mother Elizabeth both died between 1830 and 1840.

Levina’s Children

In the 1830s Levina’s children Thomas, William, Polly, and Elizabeth moved to Mason County in what would later become West Virginia. The DOSS siblings were a tight bunch. It is not known if their mother Levina was still living and made the move with the group or if she had died before the children moved. Only her son Phillip remained in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

The only documentation I have found for Levina are the two census listings in which she was named head of household. None of her children’s marriage records have the name of their mother listed. No death records were found for her children. All of her known children died after 1880 and before 1900.

Credits and a New Cousin

While preparing to write this last blogpost for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge I learned that Libbie Griffin started up the Doss Family Association in 1994 for the purpose of sharing information among all Doss descendants. She should be credited for researching and compiling genealogical information that was published in their newsletter The Doss Connection. In our world of social media today it is so easy to find other researchers but what do you do when the person has “retired” her hobby? If I can find my ancestors shouldn’t I be able to find Libbie? In the days prior to Facebook, Twitter, etc. we used the messages boards and mailing lists. I searched through them until I found the most recent email address.

A Christmas Present and the Grand Finale

Saturday before Christmas I got an early present. Libbie replied to my email and told me about a bundle she found that included depositions that proved many connections in the Virginia Doss families.

“On one trip to Richmond for research I discovered that the information I needed to find the original papers was in Lynchburg, more than 100 miles away.  I went there and obtained the detailed title of the case and case number.  When I returned to Richmond the next day with that information I was handed a bundle of papers that had not been opened since a string was tied around them nearly 200 years earlier….I can’t tell you how excited I was!”

Reading this gave me goosebumps. Isn’t it the dream of all genealogists to find the mother lode? She told me that she had written an entire issue of The Doss Connection about the find with transcripts of the important documents. She offered to scan and email it to me. YES! Thank you very much! She also wrote, “It felt wonderful to be reminded of that ‘find’.”

ScreenClip
The Doss Connection, Vol. 2 No. 1 July 1996, bottom of page 2. Used with permission of Libbie Griffith.

What Libbie found was a bundle that has not been scanned and therefore is not available in the Library of Virginia‘s collection of Chancery Records that are online. The case details of the bundle are indexed online here. In the issue of the newsletter Libbie sent to me, pages 2-12, 17-18, and 22 were filled with information on the case and the families involved. A plat drawing of the land in question was included:

ScreenClip
The Doss Connection, Vol. 2 No. 1 July 1996, bottom of page 4. Used with permission of Libbie Griffith.

Although I would love to share all of the information found in this issue of The Doss Connection I have chosen to only share excerpts, with Libbie’s permission, concerning my 4th great-grandmother Levina Doss. First, the deposition given by Levina, spelled Lavina in this excerpt, and second, the deposition of her mother Elizabeth. Words in brackets are Libbie’s and some punctuation and spelling corrections were made for easier reading but doesn’t change the meaning:

The Testimony of Lavina Doss
Deposition taken in Pittsylvania Co., Va., 7 May 1817: Lavina Doss … deposeth and sayeth that in the last sickness of her Grandfather, James Doss Senr. & but a Short time before his death, he sent for her Father James Doss Junr to come & see him, accordingly he went & this deponant went with him & we both went together, into the room where my Grandfather lay alone. He spoke to my father & said I am glad to see you Jamey, I have been uneasy & have sent for you to have some talk with you about our affairs. I am about soon to leave you my son & want you to have your rite. I know that I am owing you money that ought to have been paid before now but it was not in my power to do it, but I have now directed my Ext [Executor] to pay you without putting you to any trouble about it. As to the land, it is yours. It was gave to you & I wish you to have it for you have an undoubted rite to it & cannot be kept out of it after my death, your uncle Edward Nicks, gave you the land by Deed of Gift & I have no Claim to it any longer than I live; altho I have directed the land to [defer?, unclear] other ways than I ought to have done, it is not intended to keep you out of your Rite, but only to try to keep peace a little longer over my old head, for I wish to leave my family in peace & I know you will get the land after my death — altho it may put you to the trouble of goin’ or sending for the deed of gift, which I did no want you to have the trouble of. But for the sake of peace in my family, I could not help doing as I have, you know when I agreed to give you up the land below the Shop branch, what an oneasiness [uneasiness] & interruptions it made in my family, till you consented for the business to rest as it was till my death.

This deponent further sayeth that in the life time of the said James Doss Senr. he frequently said that the land belonged to his son James Doss Junr. after his death, that it was gave to him by uncle Edward Nicks and that he held no claim to it any longer than life. This deponent further states that her grandfather James Doss senr. dec’d., put her father James Doss Junr. into possession of the said land below the Shope branch, as above mentioned, & her father began to run a fence on the said land, but was stopped at the request of his father, on account of the disturbance & uneasiness it made in his family, but told my father, James Doss Junr. he would get the whole of the said land after his death. [signed: Lavina (X) Doss, her mark]

Notes (by Libbie): We should keep in mind that Lavina had something of a vested interest in the outcome of this case, and might have stressed her father’s right in the land a bit overmuch. In addition to providing us with an account of James Sr.’s last day, and his love for and concern for his family, Lavina’s testimony also tells what we had previously suspected: that although Lavina had 5 or 6 children, she never married. More on her family appears later in this issue.”

The Testimony of Elizabeth Doss
“Pittsylvania County, 27 September, 1816 [omitting the beginning]…. the tract of land in the bill mentioned was in the possession of my husband James Doss Junr. at the time of his death but was afterward sold (sometime in the year of 1812) at publick sale to the hightest bidder, subject to my dower, by the defendant Samuel Pannill, under a deed of trust executed by my said husband James Doss Junr. to the said Samuel Pannill to secure the payment of a debt due from my husband….to David Pannill’s Estate … neither the said complainant [Nathan Thurman] nor any other person forbid the sale, but since the sale the said Complainant Nathan Thurmon [sic] hath applied to this Respondent to purchase the dower land she holds in her possession & having thus fully answered this Respondant prayes to be hence  dismissed with her Costs. [signed: Elizabeth (X) Doss, her mark]

Note (by Libbie): Elizabeth was taxed for 56 acres until 1827, when this land was taken by the county (see Pittsylvania Co. Deed Bk. 28, p. 121). She and her children and grandchildren may have continued to live there afterward.”

This post was ready for publication before I heard from Libbie. I did not want to change what was written and have added some remarks concerning things that I numbered.

[1] The wife of James DOSS Jr. is seen in many family trees as Elizabeth LESTER. Libbie Griffin gives strong evidence that she was the daughter of Thomas LESTER, however stressed that the maiden name is unproved. “Thomas LESTER purchased the land of George Wilcocks, adjacent to James Doss Sr., in 1779 (Pittsylvania Deed Bk. 5, p. 137). Lester was dead by March 1789 when his widow Lithe (probably Elizabeth’s step-mother) married John Ballinger. In 1824 Elizabeth Doss and John and Anna Lester sold what appears to be the same land to Asa Craddock (Pitts. Co. Deed Bk. 26, p. 224). This suggests that she was the sister of either John Lester or his wife Ann Minter Lester. Lester’s lived near (adjoining?) James Doss Jr.” [Source: Libbie Griffin, The Doss Connection, Vol. 2. No. 1, page 8]

[2] The death record of William DOSS’s daughter Sarah Jane NEVILLE shows that her mother was Elizabeth HENRY. Therefore all children seen with William and Elizabeth in 1850 were from his 2nd marriage except for sons John 22 and William 14.

[3] According to Libbie’s article, William DOSS died 21 November 1888. His death record names “Lavina” as his mother, father unknown, and indicates that he was born in 1812. [Source: Libbie Griffin, The Doss Connection, Vol. 2. No. 1, page 17]

[4] Libbie believed that Levina’s youngest daughter seen in the 1830 census may have died young. She may not have had all the information on marriages of DOSS individuals in Mason County, West Virginia, and Gallia County, Ohio, where many residents of Mason married. It is my belief that Elizabeth was this young daughter, named after her grandmother, and that she came to Mason County with her brothers and sister in the 1830s, most likely before December 1837 when brother William married Elizabeth HENRY.

I’m going to let Libbie have the final word.

“I’m sure you can imagine it how hard it was for me to keep from cheering loudly in the hushed halls of the Virginia State Library when I cut that string and read those old documents!  A similar experience led me to the answers I needed about my own Doss family.  It’s amazing what’s there to find if we look long enough.”

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Levina DOSS
Parents: James DOSS Jr. and his wife Elizabeth
Spouse: not applicable
Children: Thomas, William, Phillip Valorius, Mary E. “Polly”, and Elizabeth “Betty”
Surnames: Doss, Clonch, Roop, Dempsey, Eads, Rodman, Barber, Bailess, Steed
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey:
4th Great-grandmother

1. Levina DOSS
2. Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
3. Alexander CLONCH
4. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
5. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
6. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
7. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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