D-I-V-O-R-C-E : Sarah Jane Foster vs John W. Clonch

It’s a complicated story

John W. CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio. A judge of the Probate Court of Gallia County issued the marriage license. They were joined in marriage by Robert WORH, a justice of the peace. The marriage record does not include the names of parents.1

Their first child, a son William Alexander was born on 2 October 1862.2 A year and a half later, about April 1864, a daughter was born. By this time the marriage was already in trouble and divorce was the next step for Sarah.

This post includes the chancery records found by Ralph L. Hayes in Mason County’s courthouse over two decades ago.3 He was kind enough to share them with me and gave me permission to use them.

Dramatis personae

These are the persons who played a part in the chancery case Sarah Jane FOSTER vs John W. CLONCH in 1864:

  • Sarah Jane FOSTER , age of 21, married John W. CLONCH also 21 on 20 February 1862. She was the plaintiff (oratrix) in this case.
  • John W. CLONCH , the oldest son of William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS, and husband of Sarah Jane FOSTER . They married in Gallia County, Ohio. He was the defendant in this cause.
  • John W. FOSTER assumed to be the father (or brother) of Sarah Jane and seen as the next friend in this cause.
  • Sarah DEWITT, a young lady of about 24 years who was questioned as a witness.
  • Peter DEWITT, a man of 36 years who was questioned as a witness.
  • William Alexander CLONCH, the two-year-old son of John W. and Sarah J.
  • Lavinia PATTERSON, also known as Lavinia DOSS (her mother’s surname) and Lavinia CLONCH (her father’s surname). She was a sister of John W. and Alexander and wife of James William PATTERSON. She was a witness.
  • Rebecca LEMASTER, sister of Mary Ellen CLONCH. She was one of the persons implicated in the questioning of the witnesses.
  • Mary Ellen CLONCH née LEMASTER, the wife of Alexander CLONCH. She was no longer living with him and having an affair with John W. CLONCH.
  • Alexander CLONCH, the second son of William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS. He married Mary Ellen LEMASTER on 10 November 1863. He is not named in the proceedings but referred to as the husband of Mary Ellen.
  • William CLONCH and Mary E. DOSS, parents of John, Alexander, and Lavinia. They were never married and their children were known by both surnames.
  • James DEWITT and Rebecca ATKINSON, parents of Sarah and Peter who were witnesses. It was at their house in the Clendenin township that some incidents took place.

Iudex, advocatus, et notarius publicus 

The judge, lawyer, and public notary who were mentioned in the proceedings.

Daniel Haymond POSLEY (1803-1877) was a judge of the seventh judicial circuit of West Virginia. Before this chancery case, he was the Lieutenant Governor of the Restored Government of Virginia (the Unionist government of Virginia during the Civil War) until two weeks before West Virginia became a state. After this chancery case, he would go on to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1866, serving from 1867 to 1869. Mr. Polsley was the judge for this case.4

Benjamin J. REDMOND was a Notary Public born in 1840. During the war between the States, Mr. REDMOND served the government as provost marshal of Mason County. After this chancery case, from 1868-1870, he served as a justice in the Robinson district followed by four years as president of the Mason County court.5

William H. TOMLINSON, an attorney at law who questioned the witnesses for the plaintiff.6

 

 

Joseph S. MACHIN, a Notary Public for the county and state and a Master Commissioner for Chancery for the County of Mason.

Vinculo matrimonii

The Chancery Records concerning the divorce of Sarah Jane CLONCH from John W CLONCH.

To the Honorable Daniel Polsley Judge of the Circuit Court for Mason County Humbly complaining thereto unto your Honor your oratrix Sarah J. Clonch wife of John W. Clonch, who sues by John W. Foster her next friend that she is now twenty four years old at the age of twenty one she left her fathers house, and was married to the said John W. Clonch and since that time has been to him a constant, faithful and dutiful wife and has borne him two children to wit: William A. now two years old and an infant daughter three month old. Her husband on the other hand has been negligent and insufferable abusive and violent to her within the last two years frequently beating and choking her for no cause whatever on her part. he has left his house and home taking with him her oldest child and living in adultry with another woman, your oratrix further alledges that he has been seen in the bed with his own brothers wife and has failed to furnish support to your oratrix and her child that she is obliged to labor for their entire support, or they would come to starvation. The only property owned by your oratrix and her husband is the household and kitchen furnature and one horse, the most of which your 


oratrix brought from Her Father’s and helped him to same. To the end therefore oratrix prays that the said John W. Clonch may be made a defendant to this bill and acquired to render a full true and perfect answer to the same upon his corporal oath; that he may be enjoined and restrained from interfering with or in any maner (sic) molesting her and her child that is with her; that your Oratrix my (sic) be entirely divorced from him and the marriage be dissolved (two lines marked out) that he may be compelled to deliver up her child to her and to surrender to her and them for the maintenance of herself and her children The property aforesaid mentioned; and for such other and further relief as her case requires, and to equity may seem meet; May it pleas (sic) your honor to grant & @ And your oratrix will ever pray & @

West Virginia Mason County to wit This day Sarah J. Clonch, personally appeared before me B. J. Redmond N.P. and made oath that the allegations in the above bill are true to the best of her remembrance information and belief.

Given under my hand this 18 day of July 1864
B. J. Redmond N.P.


Sarah J. Clonch
vs In Chancery
John W. Clonch

This cause came on this day to be heard upon the bill, the exhibits filed and examination of witnesses and was argued by council for the plaintiff. On consideration whereof the Court being of opinion that the plaintiff is ? ? ? ? ? ? ? (marked out: all the allegations in the bill mentioned against the defendant and fully ?) doth adjudge order and decreed that the marriage heretofor solemnized between Sarah J. Clonch and John W. Clonch be and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Sarah J. Clonch is forever divorced from her husband. The said John W. Clonch X (in the right margin: X and it is further a? ? that the complainant is entitled to the care and custody infant children in the bill mentioned and that) (text marked out: and all the right title and interest of the said John W. Clonch in or to the household and  kitchen furniture shall belong to the said Sarah J. Clonch and the two children in the bill mentioned shall remain in the care and custody of the said Sarah J. Clonch) the said John W. Clonch do surrender up the said William A. Clonch (marked out: infant son) to the care and custody of the  said Sarah J. Clonch and that the plaintiff recover from the defendant her costs by her expended in the prosecution of this Suit


Cover sheet for the depositions in the chancery record

Sarah J. Clonch
vs …….De?ed
John W. Clonch
Sept Term 1864

 

 

 

 

 



The depositions of Sarah Dewit and others taken before me Joseph S. Machin, a Master Commissioner for Chancery for the County of Mason and State of West Virginia pursuant to notice hereto annexed at the office of Wm. H. Tomlinson in the town of Point Pleasant on the 15th day of August (fold in document may have a missing line) and 6 o’clock p.m. to be read as evidence on behalf of Sarah J. Claunch in a certain suit in equity depending in the circuit court for the County of Mason wherein Sarah J. Claunch is plaintiff and John W. Claunch is defendant.
Present Wm. H. Tomlinson attorney for plaintiff, Sarah Dewit, being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth and saith as follows:
1st Question by Wm. H. Tomlinson for defendant. What is your age?
Answer – I do not knew exactly, but think I am about twenty four years of age.
2nd Question – By same. Do you know the parties to this suit?
Answer – Yes Sir, I do.
3rd Question – By same – Did you ever see the defendant, at your mother’s house in company with Rebecca Lemaster on or about the first day of July 1864, and if so, state how long they were together at that place and under what circumstances?
Answer – I saw them there together, they set up all night together.
4th Question – By same – While they were setting up together state whether he was laying


in her lap or her in his, and whether he was hugging her or what they even doing?
Answer – She was laying in his arms.
5th Question – By same – Was there a light in the house or was there note?
Answer – Sometimes there was a light and sometimes none.
6th Question – By same – Was it a light given by the fire or candle?
Answer – It was given by fire.
7th Question – By same – Who put out the light?
Answer – I do not know.
8th Question – By same – How often have they been there together at your mother’s house?
Answer – They were there together occasionally but do not remember how often.
9th Question – By same – Did you ever see them hugging and playing together at other times than the one answered?
Answer – Yes, I have seen them playing and romping together.
10th Question – by same – Was Mrs. Claunch his wife present at either of these times?
Answer – No Sir, she was not.
11th Question – By same – Did you ever see John W. Claunch and Mary Ellen Claunch, his sister-in-law passing by your mother’s house with his arms around her, and hers around him?
Answer – They were going along after dark, as well as I could see hugged up together, and this I think occurred during the Spring of 1864.
And further this deponent saith not.
………..her
Sarah + Dewit
……….mark


Peter Dewit, being duly sworn, on the Holy Evangelist of Almighty God, deposeth and saith as follows:
1st Question – By Wm. H. Tomlinson attorney for the Plaintiff. What is your age?
Answer – I am about thirty six years of age.
2nd Question – By same – Are you acquainted with the parties to this suit?
Answer – Yes Sir, I know them.
3rd Question – By same : Were you at your mother’s house at anytime when John W. Claunch and his brother’s wife were there together, and if so, state under what circumstances you saw them?
Answer – I think I never saw them there together.
4th Question – By same – Did you ever see John W. Claunch the defendant to this suit within the last year hugging and kissing any other other (sic) woman other than his wife?
Answer – I saw Rebecca Lemaster setting on his lap mighty close together and he was hugging her, and this happened after night.
And further this deponent saith not.
……..his
Peter x Dewit
…….mark

Lavinia Patterson, being duly sworn, deposeth and saith as follows:
1st Question – By Plaintiff’s Counsel. What is your age?

Answer – I am eighteen years of age.
2nd Question – Was you at home one night


within the last year while your brother John W. Claunch defendant to this suit was complaining of being unwell, and if so did you see Mary Ellen Claunch his sister-in-law go to bed to him?
Answer – I seen her lay down on the same bed with him, and they were then together about one hour.
And further this deponent saith not.
…………her
Lavinia x Patterson
………..mark

State of West Virginia
Mason County, to wit:
I, Joseph S. Machin, a Notary Public for the county and state aforesaid, so hereby certify that the foregoing depositions were duly taken, sown to and subscribed before me at the times and place mentioned therein.
Given under my hand, this 15th day of August 1864
Joseph S. Machin Master Commission
in Chancery

Costs:
Sarah Dewit witness 1 day 0.50
Peter Dewit witness 1 day 0.50
Lavinia Patterson witness 1 day 0.50
Ferriages each 10 cents 0.30
Jos. S. Machin Comm. charges 2.25
Total $4.05

This is a true statement of costs
Jos. S. Machin, Master Comm.
August 15/64


The Chancery case was recorded in the orders book of Mason County for the September Term of 1864.7

In Chancery
Sarah J. Clonch
vs
JohnW.Clonch

This cause came on this day to be heard upon the bill, the exhibits filed and examination of Witnesses and was argued by counsel for the Plaintiff on consideration whereof the court being of opinion that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief prayed for: doth adjudge order and decree that the marriage heretofore Solemnized between Sarah J. Clonch and John W. Clonch be and the same is hereby dissolved and the said Sarah J. Clonch is forever divorced from her husband the said John W. Clonch: and it is further ordered and decreed that the complainant is entitled to the care and custody of the infant children in the bill mentioned and that the said John W. Clonch do Surrender up the said William A. Clonch to the care and custody of the said Sarah J. Clonch, and that the plaintiff recover from the defendant her costs by her expended in the prosecution of the suit.


At the March term of 1865, Sarah J. CLONCH returned to court to have her son William A. CLONCH surrendered to her by his father John W. CLONCH.8

On Motion of Sarah J. Clonch and for reasons appearing to the Court it is ordered that John W. Clonch be summoned to appear here on the first day of the next term to shew cause if any he can [illegible] he shall not be find (sic, fined) and attached for refusing to surrender William A. Clonch his infant child to the custody of its mother in pursuance of a decree of this court rendered at the September term then of 1864.


Sarah J. FOSTER and her son William A. CLONCH

Following the divorce from John W. CLONCH, Sarah disappeared without a trace – at least in the census and records available. Her daughter remains unnamed. Her son William Alexander CLONCH was missing in the 1870 and 1880 census. He did not live with his father. Was he living with his mother who may have remarried?

In any event, the son William A. CLONCH married twice. First to Ellen FOWLER9 and second to his first cousin Emma Sidosa LEMASTER (also known as CLONCH).10 The marriage records do not include the names of parents. Emma was the daughter of Rebecca LEMASTER and Alexander CLONCH. He died in 1925 and left a will naming his wife Emma as his only heir.11 On the death record, his parents were listed as John Wm CLONCH and Sarah FORRESTER (sic).12

John William CLONCH

Following the divorce of Sarah and John, Alexander CLONCH and Mary Ellen LEMASTER separated. They had been married less than a year and did not have children. They were not divorced until March 1880.13

Mary Ellen (still married to Alex) went to live with the newly divorced John W. CLONCH. They had thirteen children between 1865 and 1892. Finally on 7 May 1895 John, 54, and Mary Ellen, 47, married in Gallia County, Ohio.14

In the name of all CLONCH descendants, I would like to thank Ralph L. Hayes for ferreting out the records to back up this CLONCH family story. It sounded fantastic and a bit unbelievable but the records he found in the old dusty unindexed boxes in the courthouse backed it up. How many more stories are hidden away, waiting for someone to tell them?

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


  1. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (Digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio.), Gallia > Marriage records 1862-1874 vol 3 > image 14 of 276. John W. Clonch and Jane Foster, 20 Feb 1862. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SKRT?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-7R2%3A121350101%2C121498701 : accessed 18 Dec 2013). 
  2. 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), Mason County, West Virginia, Birth Register, page 69, line 27. William Alexander Clonch birth record. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2955142&Type=Birth : accessed 15 March 2019). 
  3. Sarah J. Clonch vs John W. Clonch, September Term 1864, Chancery Records of Mason County, West Virginia. Digital images of photocopies of the original records found in the court house by Ralph L. Hayes. Received per email 22 February 2019 from Ralph L. Hayes with permission to share on Opening Doors in Brick Walls blog. 
  4. Daily intelligencer. (Wheeling, Va. [W. Va.]), 15 June 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026845/1863-06-15/ed-1/seq-1/
  5. The weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 26 May 1864. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1864-05-26/ed-1/seq-6/
  6. The weekly register. (Point Pleasant, Va. [W. Va.]), 20 Aug. 1863. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026817/1863-08-20/ed-1/seq-1/
  7. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861961, DGS 7615568, Chancery orders, Vols. 1-2 1843-1877 (1 from 469 & 4 to 401 – Back of v. 1 has separate pages of land records), Image 286 of 949, Folio 386, September Term 1864. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Ann Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  8. Ibid., Image 303 of 949, Folio 421, March Term 1865. 1864 Divorce of John Clonch from Sarah Ann Foster.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89VP-7KDF?i=285&cat=660659 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  9. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRMD-SV7T?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-6T5%3A121350101%2C121651001 : accessed 23 March 2019), Gallia > Marriage records 1884-1890 vol 6 > image 132 of 338; county courthouses, Ohio. 
  10. Ibid., (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RMD-3J1F?cc=1614804&wc=Q6SP-6BY%3A121350101%2C121580101 : 15 July 2014), Gallia > Marriage records 1890-1895 vol 7 > image 159 of 339; county courthouses, Ohio. 
  11. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-C99Q-BS?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MLC%3A179687901%2C179798901 : accessed 23 February 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 005 1916-1930 > image 153 of 240; citing Mason County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  12. WVCulture.org, William A. Clonch death record details (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcdetail.aspx?Id=2126490 : accessed 29 March 2019) and Death Certificate No. 8914 for William A. Clonch (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=2126490&Type=Death : accessed 29 March 2019) 
  13. “Mason County, West Virginia, Circuit Court, Chancery orders, 1831-1929” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of originals at the county courthouse, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.), Film 1861962 Item 1, DGS 7615569, Chancery orders, Vols. 4 1877-1880, image 321 of 899, Folio 274 and 275, March Term 1880. 1880 Divorce of Alexander Clonch from Mary Ellen Lemaster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99VP-2SNQ?i=320&cat=659762 : accessed 6 January 2019). 
  14. “Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013” (index and images), FamilySearch (Digital images of originals housed at the county courthouses in Ohio.), Gallia > Marriage records and index 1895-1899 vol 8. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22447-41148-85?cc=1614804&wc=M94Q-VH7:315901437 : accessed 13 Nov 2013). 

Gathering Records to Tell the Story

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

Seeking Documentation

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

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

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

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

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

Two Marriages

1862 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

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

1863 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

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

Two Divorces

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

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

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

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

March term 1880

Alexander Clonch
     vs                                          In Chancery
Mary E. Clonch

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

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

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

Importance of the Records

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

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

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

Genealogy Sketch

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

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

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


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

A Date of Death for Catherine Barbara NOLL (1768-1859)

It’s National Women’s History Month! What better way to start the month than with a post about my latest genealogy *happy dance* find concerning an ancestress who has been featured in several posts with her husband. (see links at the bottom of this post)

It was a known fact that my 5th great-grandmother Catherine Barbara NOLL was still living at the time of her husband Henry RUPE’s death in late November 1845. It has been assumed by some researchers that Catherine died before the 1850 census as she was not listed. I have always thought this to be an error as her daughters Elizabeth Compton, Barbara Rupe, Mary Roop, and Nancy Roop were also omitted even though they are known to have been living at the time. Many of her son William’s children from his first marriage were also missing.

Catherine and Henry’s son Jacob ROOP was still settling his father’s estate in January 1860 when the Widow’s Dower went to the youngest son Joseph. Could this mean their mother was recently deceased?

Where could the answer be found?

I found the answer to this question in the Chancery Records of Virginia.

The Chancery Records Index (CRI) is a result of archival processing and indexing projects overseen by the Library of Virginia (LVA) and funded, in part, by the Virginia Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP). Each of Virginia’s circuit courts created chancery records that contain considerable historical and genealogical information.

http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/chancery/

Yesterday morning, while skimming through my Facebook News Feed, I noticed a post by my friend Ta Lee who I got to know when she recognized one of her enslaved families on my blog. Ta mentioned that new chancery cases are available and she was so excited. When I asked her which counties, she told me, Montgomery. I was a bit disappointed as I have been waiting impatiently for Amherst to come online.

This was the last update I saw on Montgomery: The bulk of this series runs from 1773 through 1913. 05/02/2016- These records are currently closed until they are digitally reformatted. The index remains available for research purposes.

Last year I had gone through the index and noted several cases which looked promising due to the names listed. One of these was John Roop, etc. vs. Jacob Roop, Exr, etc. from 1870. I was not expecting to make the find I made!

Chancery Causes: John Roop, etc. vs. Jacob Roop, Exr, etc.(transcription of the first 4 images of 36)

1870-012chancerycasecover
[http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=121-1870-012 : image 1]
Chancery Causes: John Roop, etc. vs. Jacob Roop, Exr, etc. (286 in corner)
1870-012
Montgomery County
CA estate dispute
T property
Deed
Names: Roope, Compton, Paris, Akers, Faris, Smith, Chandler, Chandlin, Silvers, Roupe
Will: 1845 Henry Roope : Montgomery County

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[http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=121-1870-012 : image 2]
To the Hon. Andrew S. Fulton Judge of the County Court of Montgomery
Your orators John Roop and Henry Roop respectfully represent unto your Honor that Henry Roop Sen. departed this life in the year 1845 in the County of Montgomery having made & published his will in due form of law whereto was admitted to probate in the County Court of said County at the December Term in said year.
By his said will the testator appointed his son Jacob Roop his executor who duly qualified as such and entered into bond for the faithful discharge of his duties with Samuel Lucas, William C. Taylor & Joseph Roop as his securities.
A copy of said will is herewith filed and prayed to be taken as a part of this bill.
It will be seen by reference thereto that the testator devised to his widow Catharine Roope one third of his real estate for life & directed his executor his executor (sic) to make sale of the residue upon a credit of one and two years & the proceeds to be divided among his children of whom there were thirteen entitled to distributions.
Your orators further represent that sometime after the qualification of the said executor as aforesaid – he commenced a negotiation with the devisees under said will for the purchase of their interests in two thirds of said real estate which finally resulted in a sale on the part of most of them to him of their interests aforesaid.
Among those who thus sold were your orators. Your orator John Roop sold his interest in said real estate at the sum of $100 and in the personal estate at the sum of fourteen dollars and your orator Henry Roop received for his interest in the real & personal estate the sum of $110. Your

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[http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=121-1870-012 : image 3]
his interest in said real estate at the sum of $100 and in the personal estate at the sum of fourteen dollars and your orator Henry Roop received for his interest in the real & personal estate the sum of $110. Your orators ? that the said Jacob Roop effected this purchase from them by representing the title to a portion of the land as defective that much of it was worn out and without timber & that the land sold at public auction would not bring as much as he was willing to give. Your orators having entire confidence in the integrity & judgement of said Jacob Roop made the sale of their interest aforesaid & afterword in June 1851 conveyed the same to him.
Your orators further represent that said Roop held possession of said land until the year 1850 when he made a pretended sale of the same & purchased it in himself at the sum of $8-01 cts per acre. Your orators believe that the time & place of sale was known to but few persons – that there was but little competition and the conduct of said Roop was such as to discourage bidding from the bystanders – Sometime after this, in Oct 1851, the said Jacob Roop made a sort of settlement of his executorial accounts, a copy of which is therewith filed and prayed to be taken as a part of this bill – It will be seen by reference thereto that the testator owed no debts – that the few items of credits claimed by the executor were for charges attending the administrations of said estate & for various sums paid the legatees for their interest as aforesaid – And although the said executor charges himself with 2/3ds of said land at the sum of $8-01ct per acre – yet he has only paid your orators the several sums here in before mentioned – nor has he ever acc?iled in any wise for any portion of the rents & profits of said land between the death of the testator in 1845 & the time of sale in 1850.
Your orators further represent that the said Catharine Roop departed this life in July or August of 1859 – Since which time the said Jacob Roop puts up the extraordinary claim that the sale & purchase aforesaid embraced the one third given to said Catharine Roop. But your orators and that they only conveyed & intended to convey their interests in the said two thirds as herein before stated. But they are advised that this is wholly immaterial in as much as a fiduciary will not be permitted to speculate upon those he represents – that the executor in this case will be held to account for the said two thirds at the price per acre bid by him – and as to the residue of said land he will be required to make sale of the same in the manner directed by the will or to account for its market value – Your orators are informed & so over that the said tracts of land contain 440 acres of land instead of 400 acres as represented to them by the said Jacob Roop for which he will also be held accountable intended consideration of the premises the prayer of your orators is that the said Jacob Roop in his own right & as executor as aforesaid

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[http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=121-1870-012 : image 4]
George Roop – James Roop – Barbara Roop – Nancy Roop – James Comptin & Elizabeth his wife late Elizabeth Roop – Polly Roop – John Pharis & Racheal his wife formerly Racheal Rupe – Linch Akers – Wm Silvers & Ruth his wife, Narcissa Akers, Jackson Silvers & Lucinda his wife, Minnis Chandler & Catherine his wife – William Smith administrator of Samuel Roop & Joseph Roop devisees undersaid will, may be made parties defendant to this bill & required to answer the same on oath –
Let the said Jacob Roop answer & say what amount he paid your orators severally for their interest in said estate whether he did not buy in said land at the price aforesaid and let him full & specific answer make to all the allegations in this bill as though the same were herein especially repeated – And may it please your Honor to grant your orators a ?? for the amount due them upon the sale made by said executor herein before mentioned – and also for a sale of the said one third of the real estate in the manner provided for in said will – and grant your orators all such further and general relief as the nature of their case may require and the principles of equity & good conscience dectable?
                                                                                                      Staples & Wade

When did Catherine Barbara Noll die?

Catharine Roop departed this life in July or August of 1859 –

To be continued….

bestwishescathy1

Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Early Years in Maryland (1765-1793)

Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ The Years in Rockbridge (1793-1801)

Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ At Home on the Old Henry Roop Place

Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL ~ Family Life in Montgomery County, Virginia

The Last Will and Testament of Henry RUPE 1765-1845

Henry RUPE’s Estate and his Widow Catherine’s Last Days

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

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING Jordan (Gordon), Hannah, John, Creasy, Hill, and Disy

In the Chancery Records Index (with images), a collection on the Library of Virginia site, slave names are indexed with a tilde (~) after their name – usually first name only. To search for a slave without a name, under surnames limit the search to “includes” and place only a tilde in the surname box. You can narrow the search to a county and/or a specific surname, plaintiff, or defendant mentioned in the case. Very often when slave names are involved there may be wills included in the packet.

In Nelson County, Virginia, I found a small chancery case from 1825 which mentioned Jordan and Hannah, slaves willed to Pamelia Smith, wife of James Smith, daughter of Elizabeth Wills, and granddaughter of James Wills Senr.

1825jamssmithchancery1
Image 2 of 6 in the Chancery case: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1825-006
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Image 3 of 6 in the Chancery case: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=125-1825-006

                To the Court of Nelson County in Chancery sitting
Your Petitioner John Moss respectfully represents to the Court that one James Smith whom your Orator prays may be taken as Defendant hereto stands justly indebted to him in the sum of Sixty Dollars with Interest thereon fixed the first day of January 1820 due by an Instrument of writing commonly called a penal bill under the proper hand and seal of him the said James Smith which is herewith filed and prayed to be taken as a part of this bill. Your petitioner further represents to the Court, that the said James Smith hath removed himself without the limits of this Commonwealth so that the ordinary process of Law cannot be served upon him and that he hath a life estate in a certain tract of Land lying in this County willed to his wife Pamela Smith by her Grand father James Wills Senr. decd. which will is duly recorded in this County and is to be taken and considered as a part of this bill, also two Negroes namely Jordan and Hannah which is now in the possession of his said wife Pamelia or her mother Elizabeth Wills and which was willed to her by her Grand father, the said James Wills Senr. decd. your  petitioner prays that this said Pamelia and Elizabeth may be considered and taken also as Defts hereto. Your petitioner further states that there is no Executions in the hand of the Sheriff of this county sufficient to consume the whole value of the personal property belonging to the said James Smith and Pamelia his wife in this state. Your petitioner therefore prays that he Court will Decree to him his debt aforesaid, against the said James Smith and that the said Pamelia his wife and Elizabeth be restrained from carrying away or otherwise disposing of any property which she may have in her possession untill the further order and decree of this Court and that should there not be a sufficiency in her hands to satisfy the said debt and Executions aforesaid that the Court will make such disposition of the land aforesaid for the purpose of paying his debt aforesaid as may seem just and equitable and such as is agreeable to the laws of the land and for the purpose of bringing the parties properly before the Court your petitioner prays that an order of publication may be awarded against the Deft James according to law and that a writ of subpoena and a restraining order be awarded against the Defts Pamelia and Elizabeth who is (sic) an inhabitant of this state and within the Jurisdiction of this Court. Your Orator prays for such other and further and releif (sic) as the justice of his case entitled him to and in duty borned will ever pray.
Perrow for Plt

James Wills Sr. family of Nelson County, Virginia, is not one of my ancestral or collateral lines. However I could not post this without taken a bit of time to do a few quick searches. The abstracted information from the 1820 census on Ancestry shows he owned 40 slaves.

1820jameswillscensusA search for the will of said slave holder turned up an obsolete site with the last will and testament of James Wills, Senior (Nelson County, Virginia, Will Book B, pages 178-77-78) dated 29 September 1820 and probated 26 February 1821. It mentions slaves in the possession of some of his children but not by name.

James’ son James Wills Jr. was deceased at the time of the will and his two children, including his daughter mention in the chancery record above, were mentioned in item 2 of the will:

2nd. 1 give, devise and bequeath to my grandson. Jefferson L. Wills, son of my son, James Wills Jr. dec’d,, two-hundred and filly acres of the tract of land on which his mother now resides, the entire tract containing four-hundred acres, three hundred and sixty-seven of which was purchased under deed of trust made by my said son James to Murphy, Brown & Co., and thirty-three acres residue was purchased by me of my said son by deed of record in the Court of Nelson County which said two-hundred and fly acres having been intended to be given to my said grandson, I wish land of such manner by my said executors as to include the dwelling house to him and to his heirs forever, reserving the liberty to his Mother to use the said land and enjoy, the benefits thereof jointly with him during her natural life or widowhood. The residue of the tract being one hundred and fifty acres. I devise and bequeath to my granddaughter Pamela Smith, the wife of James Smith, to her and to the heirs of her body forever. I also give my said granddaughter the negroes (2) namely, Gordon and Hannah now in the possession of her mother, Elizabeth Wills, to her and the heirs of her body forever. The residue of my negroes on said plantation, consisting of John, Creasy, Hill and Disy (and) now in the possession of my said daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Wills (wife of James Wills, Jr. Dec’d.), 1 give and devise and bequeath to my grandson, Jefferson L. Wills and to his heirs forever, allowing to his mother the liberty as to use and profit in the same manner as the land left them during her life or widowhood. Having advanced considerable sum of money for my said son, James in his lifetime it is not my will and desire that his children should have any more of my estate nor do I wish them to be held responsible for any such advancement made to their said father.

With the above document of the chancery case and this partial abstract of the will of James Wills Sr. I RELEASE the names of his known slaves in the possession of his son James Jr.’s family in 1820: Jordan (Gordon), Hannah, John, Creasy, Hill, and Disy.

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. At this point in time I’ve done all the ancestors I know of who owned slaves. There are likely more as I move back in time but, at the moment, I will share names of slaves I find who were not owned by one of my ancestors.

bestwishescathy1

© 2016, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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