Rewriting the Biography: The Tragic Death of Phebe Sims

hebe was up earlier than usual to finish the daily chores before packing up half of the meal she’d prepared the night before. Barely forty years old and mother of eight children she wondered how she found the time to do all the things she needed to do during a day.

Sons William, just thirteen, and Martin, twelve, were already outside helping their father James. Elizabeth, eleven, was keeping the younger ones busy and would be caring for them while Phebe was away. Edward and John, eight and six, had been sent out, each with a bucket, to get water. Their mother knew as soon as she was gone they would slip out to the barn to play or to pester their father to let them help with the outside chores. They didn’t like to be cooped up in the house with their older sister and the babies.

Elizabeth could be trusted to keep Polly, three, out of mischief. Since the new baby’s birth, she was no longer the youngest and missed the attention she was used to getting.

Phebe sat in the rocking chair James had made her with the baby in her arms. She freed her breast from her bodice to feed Nancy Ann. While the baby suckled, her mother’s gaze took in the largest room of the tiny cabin. All seemed in order and as soon as Nancy Ann was finished she would be able to get on her way. After settling the baby in her crib, she wrapped a small triangular shawl around her shoulders and neck, tucking the ends into the low neckline of her bodice.

From a peg on the wall, she took her thick woolen hooded cloak. Her oldest child Jeremiah, sixteen, took it from her and draped it over her shoulders as she grabbed her riding gloves from the sideboard. Jeremiah was accompanying her on her visit to her neighbor and friend who was laid up with the same illness which had plagued the children of the family.

It was still early when they left the Sims cabin. Phebe’s horse carried her as well as the package with the stew for the family of her sick friend. Herbs she thought her friend would probably be running low on since the children had taken sick were bundled up in handkerchiefs and stashed away in the pockets hidden under her skirt.

Phebe and Jeremiah had decided to take the longer route crossing Jackson’s River at it’s narrowest and more shallow point. In the early morning hours, the lofty hills on both sides of the waterway were hidden by a rising mist.

As they approached the small cabin Phebe saw a man was busy hanging out the wash. Although the day promised to be sunny she knew the wash would be frozen stiff by the time he took it down later in the day. Her friend must not be doing well if her husband was doing the woman’s chores. Young Jeremiah would help the man with the barnyard chores while Phebe took care of the rest of the household tasks.

A fire was burning in the fireplace and the main room of the cabin was cozily warm. Loud noises were coming from the young ones being shushed by their sick mother.

Hours later Phebe reflected on the day as she once again wrapped the warm woolen cape around her old work dress of home-spun flax fiber and wool. Her skirt was full-flowing. She was glad to no longer have to wear hoops and had made the skirt with gathers around the waist instead of a bustle in the back. This made it much easier to ride horseback. She usually wore a wide sash around her waist but with all the work having to be done she’d worn an apron which covered the bodice and skirt. She’d lost much weight since the birth of Nancy Ann and the once tight long sleeves hung loosely to her wrists. She needed to take in the seams she’d let out during her pregnancy.

Jeremiah had fed and watered their horses in readiness for the ride home. Days were short and there had been more to do than expected. But her friend was on the mend and the rambunctious children didn’t appear sickly. Hopefully, their mother was the last of the household to be laid up. Phebe knew she would not have to come back to help and prayed her friend’s husband was immune to the illness. Men were never easy patients.

Phebe and Jeremiah mounted their horses. It was growing colder and both she and her son wanted to get home quickly. Nancy Ann would be fussing as she did not like to be fed by Elizabeth, enjoying the closeness to her mother in the evening hours.

Jeremiah slowly guided his horse into the river looking back to see his mother waiting on the bank. They were careful when fording the river. When her son was in the middle Phebe prodded her horse to enter the water. She walked it slowly and had barely reached the middle when the horse reared. Phebe held tight to the reins. The horse plunged forward kicking up its hind legs throwing Phebe into the icy water. Jeremiah had just arrived at the other bank and upon hearing the ruckus looked back. He saw his mother being pulled down under water by her heavy clothing. By the time he reached her, she had drowned.

John Dean, Sheriff of Bath County, called jurors to assist him in determining the cause of death of Phebe Sims. The twelve jurors were well-known in the county, several even being neighbors of the Sims family. William McClintic, although not known at the time, was the grandfather of Jeremiah’s future wife.

Sheriff Dean, who was also the coroner, met with the jurors in Widow Lewis’ two-roomed house on Wednesday, 22 January 1794. The seventy-two years old sheriff was grateful for the forethought of the court to have a warm room for the inquest proceedings. Bath County being young did not yet have a courthouse. During the first summer after formation of the county in December 1790 court proceedings were held under the large shade tree at the home of Margaret Lewis, the widow of Capt. John Lewis. Later in the year, they voted to pay Mrs. Lewis seven pounds for the use of her two-roomed house.1

John Dean and the jurors viewed the dead body of Phebe Sims. The jurors were charged to inquire on the part of the Commonwealth as to the manner in which she had come to her death. Obviously, they were satisfied with the when, where, how, and after what manner the death occurred as related to them by the only witness, her son Jeremiah. After hearing his testimony, the jurors delivered their conclusion concerning the cause of death to the coroner. “Phebe was accidently drowned occasioned by the horse whereon she rode rearing and plunging and throwing her into the water.

The above narrative is my depiction of my 5th great-grandmother Phebe’s last day. The coroner’s inquest took place in Bath County and I have taken the liberty to assume it may have been in the two-roomed house of Margaret Lewis.

The Coroner’s Inquisition

Closeup of the writing on the cover of the coroner’s inquisition report from Bath County, Virginia (photocopy of original)

Phebe Simms
Inquisition Taken
the 22nd of January
1794 Before John
Dean Gent. Coroner

Photocopy of original coroner’s inquisition from Bath County, Virginia, obtained before August 1995 through a professional genealogy researcher by Rose Mary Sims Rudy.

Bath County to wit

Inquisition indented taken at [place omitted] in the County aforesaid on the twenty second day of January in the year One thousand seven hundred and ninety four before me John Dean a Gentleman and of the Coroners of the Commonwealth for the County aforesaid upon view of the body of Phebe Sims late of said County then and there lying dead; and upon the Oathes of Robert Armstrong Jr., William Morris, John Scott, John Bird, Andrew Baurland, Thomas Barber, James Armstrong, Robert McClintic, William McClintic, John Somwalt, Paul Harpole and Adam Kimberlan, good and lawful men of the County aforesaid, who being Jurors and charged to inquire on the part of the Commonwealth, when where how and after what manner the said Phebe Sims came to her death, do say upon their Oathes, that the said Phebe was accidently drowned occasioned by the horse whereon she rode Rearing and plunging and throwing her into the water.

The witness whereof as well the aforesaid Coroner as the Jurors aforesaid
have in this Inquisition put their Seals on the day and year aforesaid
and at the place aforesaid.

 John Dean [sheriff and coroner]

[Jurors]
Robt. Armstrong

William Morris
John Scott
John Bird
Andr. Baurland
Thomas Barber
Jas. Armstrong
Robert McClintic
William McClintic
Johannes Zumqualt
Paul Harpole
Adam Kimberlan

A Son Accused

But the story would not end here. A few months later John SCOTT, one of the jurors who signed the coroner’s report, accused the sixteen years old Jeremiah of causing the death of his mother.

Photocopy of original record

A scrap of paper with Jeremiah written in the upper right corner includes the following written by James SIMS to Col. Charles CAMERON:

Sir Please to Issue a Writ vs John Scott for saying my son was the Dam son of a Bitch that Drowned his Mother
[signed] Jas Sims
[to] Col C. Cameron

James defended his son and requested damages of one hundred pounds. Charles CAMERON issued an order for the sheriff to bring in John SCOTT on the second Tuesday of May in 1794 to hear the charges.

Photocopy of original record

Cover sheet:
Issued for Saying that Jeremiah Simms was the Damd Son of a Bitch that Drowned his Mother

Photocopy of original record

Inside:
The Commonwealth of Virginia, to the Sheriff of Bath County, Virginia:
You are hereby commanded to take John Scott
if he be found within your bailiwick, and him safely keep so that you have his body before the justices of our court, of our said county, at the court-house on the Second Tuesday in May next to answer Jeremiah Simms by James Simms his father and next friend of a plea of Trespass on the Case Damage one Hundred pounds.
and have then there this writ, witness CHARLES CAMERON, clerk of our said court, at the court-house, the 16th day of April 1794 in the 18th year of the Commonwealth.
Signed: Chas Cameron

It is not known if James SIMS or his son Jeremiah ever received damages from John SCOTT.

The case in Judgment – Simms vs Scott was located in a file of old law cases for 1795 by Constance Corley Metheney, a professional genealogist. Mrs. Metheney sent photocopies of the original records to Rose Mary Sims Rudy in August 1995. She had previously found the coroner’s report for Rose Mary and wrote, “This does verify that the wife of James Simms had drowned and in this case it seems that John Scott had accused the son, Jeremiah Simms.”

The Years After Phebe’s Death

James, who was left with eight children aged between 16 and a few months, waited over two years to marry again. His young bride, Elizabeth COTTON, was likely only about 15 when they married in October 1796. She did not bear him a child who lived until around 1801, five years after they married. Was she too young or did she miscarry or lose babies before giving James eight children? Or did James leave his children from his first marriage in her care for a longer period of time while he went to Kanawha County to look into purchasing land and readying for the move to the area in 1800?

In the next installment, I will analyze the census records found for James SIMS Jr., the oldest child of James SIMS and his second wife Elizabeth COTTON.

Rewriting the Biography is an ongoing theme for the rough draft notes of a new/updated biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County.

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


  1. Morton, Oren F. Annals of Bath County. Staunton, Va., The McClure co., inc, 1917. (https://archive.org/stream/annalsofbathcoun00mort#page/108/mode/2up/search/lewis : accessed 13 June 2018) 

52 Ancestors: #29 Sarah Ann TREADWAY 1828-bet. 1900-1910

52ancestors“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 #29 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #29 Sarah Ann TREADWAY 1828-aft. 1900

My 3rd great-grandmother married in 1851. In the Marriage Records of Meigs County, Ohio, the name of the groom, John COOLEY, and the name of the bride, Sarah A. TREADWELL were entered by the same person who made all other entries on the page. This was followed by:

“The State of Ohio Meigs County, ss. This is to certify that on the 9th day of September A. D. 1851 I joined in marriage John Cooley & Sarah Ann Treadwell by virtue of a license for that purpose (signed) H. S. Lawrence J.P.”

All of the entries on the page included “A true copy” except for this one. Does the original scrap of paper still exist? All entries for 1851 are in the same handwriting. I skipped back through the “Marriage records 1819-1852 vol 1” database at FamilySearch, 50 images at a time, and discovered that the entire volume appears to have been written by the same person, most likely at the same time. This would mean that it is a copy made at a later date. Is it a copy of the original book or a marriage record book made up from loose leaf papers found in the court house?

Did the clerk who copied the Justice of the Peace’s information make a mistake? Did H. S. Lawrence, J.P., make the error in his records? In all records produced after this event, my Sarah Ann’s maiden name was spelled TREADWAY.

TREADWELL or TREADWAY, that is the question!

  • Daughter Ida’s 1870 birth record has as mother Sarah Jane TREADWAY. [line 1515]
  • Children Calvin and Sally‘s death records have TREADWAY for the mother’s maiden name.
  • Finally, an unknown great-granddaughter of granddaughter Lorena Ellen CLONCH (md. 1st James Noyce SMITH, 2nd John TOMSHACK) has the family bible in which Sarah Ann is listed as TREADWAY. [For more than 10 years I haven’t been able to find out who the great-granddaughter of Lorena Ellen CLONCH is or where this statement came from. Maybe she will see this and get in touch.]

Why am I worrying about one record which may have the name wrong? Because I wonder if it’s possible that they (Justice of the Peace and the clerk) got it right on the marriage record and records produced later were in error.

To further complicate things, I don’t know who Sarah’s parents were. I have not been able to locate her in the 1850 census. I’ve tried all combinations of Treadway, Treadwell, and even Tracewell. In later census records she was listed as being born in Virginia and West Virginia. Her parents’ places of birth are also seen as Virginia or West Virginia. Since these are for the years 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 it is very likely that she/they was/were born in an area of Virginia that became part of West Virginia in 1863.

Opening a Little Door in a Brick Wall

As previously discussed in 52 Ancestors: #28 John COOLEY, Sarah was seen in the 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 census with her husband John COOLEY.

I dug a bit deeper on the 1900 census this week and made a wonderful discover!

1900censuscooley
1900 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Falls > Belva [ancestry.com]
1900 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, West Virginia
Falls District, Belva Precinct
Enumerated on the 29th day of June 1900
HH #358-358
Cowley, John head W M Oct 1827 72 married 45 yrs MS MS MS day laborer
_____, Sarah wife W F Apr 1828 71 married 45 yrs mother of 12, 0 living WV WV WV
Wilson, George boarder W M Oct 1849 (sic) 50 widowed WV WV WV day laborer
_____, Jenett granddaughter W F Apr 1891 9 single WV WV WV

In my story about Sarah’s husband John, I wrote:

At first glance the census listing for 1900 was overlooked as the surname was misspelled and John and his parents’ places of birth were seen as Mississippi instead of Missouri. A marriage record for John’s youngest daughter Minnie O. COOLEY helped to make the connection. Minnie married George WILSON (1849-aft. 1900) on 8 March 1900. She did not live long enough to be enumerated on the 1900 census but her widowed husband and a daughter from a previous relationship are seen living with John and Sarah COOLEY (misspelled Cowley) in Belva.

It bothered me that George WILSON was listed as widowed and a boarder in 1900 as he had married the COOLEY’s daughter Minnie three months before the census was enumerated. Shouldn’t he be seen as son-in-law? When I first found the marriage record I noticed that under Remarks “mail Geo. Wilson” was written in on the register. When was it mailed in? Could the license have been dated 8 March 1900 but the marriage took place later? I dug deeper and found that George WILSON was not 50 years old as seen on the marriage and census entries. He was 12 years older, born about 1838 to John G. J. and Delilah WILSON of Wood County. This was the county where Sarah and John had lived when their first child was born. Could there be another connection?

What to do? Whenever I am at an impasse I look at the children. Sarah’s daughter Minnie O. was the mother of two illegitimate daughters.

The youngest was Ellen COOLEY whose 1894 birth record included the name of her father E. E. BAKER. Since she was not given the father’s surname I assume that her parents were not married. I found no trace of her after this.

The older daughter was Nettie COOLEY who was seen as Jenett in 1900 with her COOLEY grandparents. No birth record was found for her. Does the line on the census where the surname should be mean a repeat of the head of household’s surname or of the person enumerated just above her? Could George WILSON have been her father?

I followed Nettie through her marriage to Carl Iven GLENN in 1917 (no parents listed) and her death in 1926 (mother Minnie COOLEY, father not known). In the 1920 census Carl and Nettie were seen with her daughter Freda COOLEY age 8 and a brother-in-law (of the head of household) Charles E. HAYES age 8. As I had already laid Minnie to rest in 1900 I did not even consider that the HAYES boy could be a Nettie’s brother. Then I wondered if Nettie’s father might be a HAYES but without documentation this was only speculation.

Not considering ALL possibilities had been a big mistake! I checked the births in Mason County for the parents of Charles E. HAYES. Luckily Mason has a birth register that is typewritten and in alphabetical order – many children were recorded without their given names. In 1911 I found a male child born on 25 January 1911 to Ben and Minnie HAYSE (sic).

A quick search of the marriage records and I had Benjamin Sterrett HAYES Jr. age 60 marrying Minnie O. WILSON age 37 on 19 October 1910, three months before the birth of the child. A search for Benjamin HAYES in the 1910 census clinched it! Minnie, housekeeper, and her children Nettie and Ellen are in Benjamin’s household and listed with the BAKER surname. Why BAKER on the census when she used WILSON a few months later when she married? Where are Ben and Minnie in 1920? Why was Charles seen with his sister Nettie in 1920?

I knew that Nettie died in 1926 and that her widower had remarried. A search for Charles E. HAYES in the 1930 and 1940 census did not turn up any results. At FamilySearch.org using parents’ names to search I found Charles’ death certificate. He died in 1927, six months after his sister Nettie (both of tuberculosis), the informant was her widower Carl GLENN. Could this mean that Nettie raised her brother and her husband had taken over when she died?

FAG Angela Harkins  (#46845221) WV Mason Hambrick Cemetery Minnie O. Hayes
FAG Angela Harkins (#46845221) WV Mason Hambrick Cemetery Minnie O. Hayes, used with permission.

Time to check Find A Grave, usually one of the last places I look for information. I should have tried there first as several of my questions were answered.

Angela Harkins (FAG contributor #46845221) had photos of gravemarkers and information on Minnie and her daughter Ellen who married in 1912 and in 1915, had a son in 1916, and died a few days later. Her mother Minnie O. COOLEY died in 1919. There was no death records for either lady. However the mystery of Minnie O. Cooley’s whereabouts and death have now been solved.

Sarah’s Children

And now the information on the children of my third great-grandparents Sarah and John is more complete (47 grandchildren):

  • Ch 1: Calvin COOLEY (1853-1912) born 10 October 1853 in Parkersburg, Wood County, (West) Virginia. Calvin married Mary MacNeal CAMDEN (1855-1931) on 14 November 1872 in Cooper Township, Mason County, West Virginia. They had 10 children. Calvin died on 10 June 1912 in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. His widow never remarried.
  • Ch 2: Melissa F. “Lucy” COOLEY (1855-1898) born about 1855 in Cedarville, Ohio. Melissa married Henry Hartman BIRD (1833-1900) on 19 March 1871 in Meigs County, Ohio. Henry was a widower with 4 children. Melissa and Henry had 10 children. She died 23 March 1898 in Bashan, Meigs County, Ohio. Her widower is not known to have remarried.
  • Ch 3: Harrison COOLEY (1859-1870) born about 1859 in Missouri. Harrison died before the 1870 census.
  • Ch 4: Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY (1861-1913) born 11 February 1861 in Ohio. Tobitha married Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) on 19 August 1880 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio. Tobitha and Alex were the parents of 9 children. She was widowed in 1910 and died on 16 December 1913.
  • Ch 5: Sarah Ann “Sallie” COOLEY (1865-1939) born 25 June 1865 in West Virginia. Sallie married Joseph Riley WAUGH (1860-1921) on 14 March 1882 in Gallia County, Ohio. Sallie and Joseph had 10 children. She was widowed in the 1920s and died 7 December 1939 in Standard, Kanawha County, West Virginia.
  • Ch 6: Robert Ulysses S. Grant COOLEY (1868-1882) born about 1868 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia. Robert died on 2 November 1882 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia.
  • Ch 7: Ida COOLEY (1870- ) born 5 April 1870 in Letart Township, Meigs County, Ohio. No record has been found for her after the 1880 census. It is not known if she ever married or had children. She is the next mystery child who needs to be solved.
  • Ch 8: Minnie O. COOLEY (1873-1919) born 3 May 1873 in Arbuckle District, Mason County, West Virginia. Minnie had two illegitimate daughters, one with E. E. BAKER.  Minnie married(1) George WILSON (1838-1900?) on 8 March 1900 in Dixie, Fayette County, West Virginia. She married(2) Benjamin Sterrett HAYES (1850-aft. 1911) on 19 Oct 1910 in Mason County, West Virginia. They had one son. Minnie died on 21 December 1919.
  • Ch 9: Timothy COOLEY (1876-1913) born 6 June 1876 in Hannan District, Mason County, West Virginia. Timothy married Lilly E. CROOKSHANK (1879-1961) on 19 September 1897 in Clay County, West Virginia. They were the parents of five children. Timothy died in December 1912 or 1913 (not confirmed). His widow remarried, had two children with her 2nd husband, divorced, married again, divorced, and went back to using the COOLEY name until her death.

Sarah Ann TREADWAY died sometime after the 1900 census. No death record has been found for her or her husband John COOLEY. They were in their early 70s when the 1900 census was enumerated and it is likely that they died before the 1910 census. However, as there is still the possibility that they were missed in 1910 and died before 1920, I continue to list them as died after the 1900 census.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about how I go about solving these little problems in my family tree. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a research lesson. What would you have done differently? Your comments may help me with Sarah’s daughter Ida COOLEY.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #28 John COOLEY 1827-aft. 1900

52ancestors“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 #28 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #28 John COOLEY 1827-aft. 1900

Door29lomoJohn COOLEY is the second brick wall in my series of posts for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I’ve walked the full length of this brick wall searching for a door that will get me to the other side.

A small window that allows me to take a peek at what may be on the other side of this brick wall was created by Michael COOLEY, owner and administrator of Michael Cooley’s Genealogy Pages.

Michael and members of the John Cooley Mailing List work on finding information on the early American COOLEY lines and finding male descendants who are willing to take the Y-DNA test to prove the connections. Although emphasis is on the male line, members may opt to discuss a female line to get around road blocks.

My John COOLEY has been included in the list of Patrilineal Descendants of John COOLEY (ca.1740-1811) of Stokes County, North Carolina.  His line is “greyed out” as the assumed connection has not been proven. I shared information on living male descendants with Michael and hope at least one will take the Y-DNA test and be included on the Y-DNA Signatures of Early American Cooleys.

This Side of the Brick Wall

My 3rd great-grandfather John COOLEY was born in October 1827 in Missouri. I don’t know who his parents were. What I do know is that they, or at least his mother, had to be in Missouri in late 1827 [per 1900 census] when John was born.

The earliest record found for John was for his marriage in Meigs County, Ohio, in 1851.

1851marriage
“Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18059-119253-85?cc=1614804 : accessed 25 Oct 2011), Meigs > Marriage records 1819-1852 vol 1 > image 270 of 277.

John COOLEY married Sarah Ann TREADWELL on Tuesday the 9th of September 1851 in Meigs County, Ohio. They were married by H. S. Lawrence, Justice of the Peace. The bride’s maiden name is most likely not correct.

There are several reasons for this belief:

  • Their daughter Ida’s 1870 birth record lists Sarah Jane TREADWAY. [line 1515]
  • Their children Calvin and Sally‘s death records have TREADWAY listed as the mother’s maiden name.
  • Finally, a great-granddaughter of their granddaughter Lorena Ellen CLONCH (md. 1st James Noyce SMITH, 2nd John TOMSHACK) has the family bible in which Sarah Ann is listed as TREADWAY. [For more than 10 years I haven’t been able to find out who the great-granddaughter of Lorena Ellen CLONCH is or where this statement came from. Maybe she will see this and get in touch.]

John was not located in the 1850 census. It is not known if he left Missouri soon after his birth or only just before he married Sarah. He could have lived anywhere between the time of his birth in 1827 and his marriage in 1851.

In 1853 John and his wife Sarah were living in Parkersburg, Wood County, (West) Virginia, when their first child Calvin was born. John’s occupation was listed as sawyer on his son’s entry in the birth register.

Daughter Melissa F. was born about 1855 in Cedarville, Ohio, according to her death certificate. Was this Cedarville in Greene County or Cedarville (historical) in Clinton, County? If this is reliable, Melissa may have been born while John and his little family were on their way west to Missouri. Was he going back to be with his family?

By 1860 John, a laborer, had moved his family to Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri. John, Sarah, and their children Calvin, Melissa (seen below as Lucy), and Harrison, age omitted, are living in the boarding house of Frederick and Elizabeth King, immigrants from Germany. Young Harrison was born in Missouri.

1860Cooleycensus
1860 U.S. Federal Census > MO > Lafayette > Lexington > HH#523-582; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu628unit#page/n282/mode/1up : accessed 6 April 2014

They did not remain in Missouri for long as they were back in Ohio when my 2nd great-grandmother Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY was born on 11 February 1861.

After Tobitha’s birth John was moving his family back and forth between Mason County, West Virginia, and Meigs County, Ohio. Or at least it appears this way when comparing the places of births of the children on the census. Sallie b. 1865 and Robert b. abt. 1868 are seen as born in West Virginia on the 1870 census when the family was living in Meigs County, Ohio. Ida, who was born in April before the census, was found in the Meigs birth register. Harrison, who was the youngest member of the family in 1860, appears to have died before the 1870 census. John, as a sawyer in 1853, is once again working in a sawmill in 1870.

1870censuscooley
1870 U.S. Federal Census > OH > Meigs > Olive > HH#319-304 [ancestry.com]
John’s oldest children began to marry in the early 1870s giving us an idea of when the move to Mason County may have become more permanent. Daughter Melissa F. “Lucy” COOLEY married Henry Hartman BIRD (1833-1900) on 19 March 1871 in Meigs County, Ohio. Son Calvin COOLEY married Mary MacNeal CAMDEN (1855-1931) on 14 November 1872 in Mason County, West Virginia. Both of these children are seen as residents of the county they married in. The move to Mason most likely was between March 1871 and November 1872.

After coming to Mason County two more children were born: Minnie O. on 3 May 1873 in Arbuckle District and Timothy on 6 June 1876 in Hannan District. Even with six children in his household in 1880 John “adopted” two young children whose mother was born in Missouri. Was their mother a sister, niece or cousin of John COOLEY?

1880censuscooley
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Arbuckle > Sheet 210A > HH #200 [ancestry.com]
Following the 1880 census John’s daughters Tobitha and Sarah married.

Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY married Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) on Thursday the 19th of August 1880 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio. The day after their marriage, in Mason County, “a heavy storm of wind, rain, and lightning, came up. The rain poured down in torrents, with flash after flash of lightning and peal after peal of thunder. It was a fearful afternoon and got so dark that lamps had to be lighted in the business rooms. During the time the lightning struck the Court House at the extreme point of the cupula, and descending the lightning rod jumped from it to the metallic roof, and from there to the spouting, clearing away about one half of the spouting on the east side of the house, following the spouting along until it again came in contact with the rod, when the fluid passed on down the rod into the ground. The rod is probably what saved the building.”[1] What a dramatic day after the marriage of my 2nd great-grandparents. It must have been a good omen as the marriage lasted 30 years, until the death of Alex at age 68. And to think that five months earlier Alex’s marriage to his first wife had been dissolved at that same Court House.

Sarah Ann “Sallie” COOLEY married Joseph Riley WAUGH (1860-1921) on the 14th of March 1882 in Gallia County, Ohio.

Unfortunately, not all news was good news during these times. John and Sarah’s 14 years old son Robert Ulysses S. Grant COOLEY died of typho-malarial fever on 2 November 1882 in Arbuckle District. Malarial fever was prevalent in the area at the time. The parents may have been ill or caring for others in the family as one of Robert’s sisters gave the information on his death. This may have been one of the older married sisters as Ida and Minnie were 10 and 8 years old at the time.

article2
The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 Feb. 1885. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
John and his son Calvin had some bad luck with horses in the 1884-1885. Calvin lost one of his team horses in June 1884. It had “died from scours, supposed to be caused from eating some weed that has made its appearance in our pastures, and of which considerable complaint is being made.”[2] In February of 1885 John’s horse fell on the ice on Nine Mile creek and hurt itself so badly it had to be killed.[3]

John’s son Timothy COOLEY married Lilly E. CROOKSHANK (1879-1961) on 19 September 1897 in Clay County, West Virginia. Most likely the COOLEYs and the CLONCHs moved to that county about the same time.

John and Sarah lost a daughter Melissa F. “Lucy” BIRD who died on 23 March 1898 in Bashan, Meigs County, Ohio. This was also about the time that the COOLEYs and the CLONCHs moved to the Dixie/Belva area of Fayette County, West Virginia.

At first glance the census listing for 1900 was overlooked as the surname was misspelled and John and his parents’ places of birth were seen as Mississippi instead of Missouri. A marriage record for John’s youngest daughter Minnie O. COOLEY helped to make the connection. Minnie married George WILSON (1849-aft. 1900) on 8 March 1900. She did not live long enough to be enumerated on the 1900 census but her widowed husband and a daughter from a previous relationship are seen living with John and Sarah COOLEY (misspelled Cowley) in Belva.

1900censuscooley
1900 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Fayette > Falls > Belva [ancestry.com]
John and his wife Sarah were in their early 70s in 1900. Calvin, Tobitha, Sallie and Timothy were the only children remaining. No record has been found of their daughter Ida born in 1870 and last seen in 1880.

John and his wife were not found in the 1910 census. It is very likely that they passed away during the decade as they were getting on in age. I would have liked to have found a death record for John COOLEY with the names of his parents listed on it but that was not to be. By the end of 1913 only daughter Sallie WAUGH was still living.

Sources:

[1] The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 Aug. 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.
<http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1880-08-25/ed-1/seq-2/>

[2] The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 June 1884. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1884-06-25/ed-1/seq-3/>

[3] The Weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 25 Feb. 1885. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1885-02-25/ed-1/seq-3/>

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