Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Alfred

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

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

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

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

Braxton County Will Book 2, Page 186

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

Braxton County Will Book 2, Page 187

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

Braxton County Will Book 2, Page 188

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

Elijah Squires *seal*

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

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

Teste Jno. P. Byrne clk

The U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

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

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

Speculation on the identity of Alfred

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1.   “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HYGF-Y?cc=1909099&wc=Q8BW-M6S%3A179688701%2C179735201 : accessed June 2018), Braxton > Will book, v. 002 1854-1861 > image 114-115 of 180; county courthouses, West Virginia. 
  2.  1870 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1685; FHL Film: 553184; West Virginia, Braxton County, Franklin, image 32 of 32, Page No. 32, Sheet No. 429B, Lines 20-21, HH #213-213, Alfred Cox household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed accessed 30 September 2018). 
  3.  1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1400; West Virginia, Braxton County, Holly, image 16 of 43, Enumeration District No. 7, Page No. 16, Sheet No. 413D, Lines 31-32, HH #144-144, Alfred Cox household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed accessed 30 September 2018). 
  4.  West Virginia Vital Research Records (index and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (online searchable database and digital images of selected birth, death and marriage records), FHL microfilm 572,705; Alfred Cox, 03 Oct 1896; citing Braxton Co., West Virginia, County Records, county courthouses, West Virginia. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4568794&Type=Death : accessed 30 September 2018). 
  5.  1900 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241756; West Virginia, Braxton County, Otter, image 40 of 68, Enumeration District No. 7, Sheet No. 20B, Lines 65-78, HH #347-347, William M. McCoy household (county poor farm). (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 September 2018). 

52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R – Kesiah LIVELY

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

52 Ancestors: #47 Johnny CASH’s 1C5R – Kesiah LIVELY

An interesting tidbit for cousins who like to find royalty and celebrities in their family tree: My 4th great-grandmother Kesiah LIVELY’s maternal grandparents, Robert Howard CASH and Ruth Walker EPPINGTON, were the 5th great-grandparents of “one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century,”[1] John R. “Johnny” CASH.

Johnny Cash was also an amateur genealogist. His interest was piqued by a chance encounter with Major Michael Crichton-Stuart on a transatlantic flight in the 1970s. The then Hereditary Keeper of Falkland Palace in Fife explained how abundant the CASH name was in Fife. Johnny Cash visited the Major several times in Scotland to fill in the gaps in his paternal CASH family tree which goes back to the 11th century.[2]

albermarle
Clipped from “Virginia 1751 Map” drawn by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson in 1751, United States Digital Map Library, a USGenWeb Archives project, online http://usgwarchives.net/maps/virginia/statemap/1751virginia.jpg : accessed 23 Nov 2014

Johnny CASH’s first cousin five times removed, my 4th great-grandmother Kesiah LIVELY was the youngest child of Joseph LIVELY (1735-1793) and Mary L. CASH (1740-1793). Both of her parents were likely born in Goochland County, Virginia. Many family trees have Albemarle as the place of birth however if we consult the formation of the Virginia counties we see that Albemarle was not formed until 1744 from Goochland. Mary and Joseph’s teen and early adult years were during the French and Indian War (28 May 1754-10 Feb 1763). They married before 1761, the year of the formation of Amherst County from Albemarle. If a marriage record ever existed in Albemarle County it was most likely destroyed along with all order books except the first and many loose papers between 1748 and 1781, by British general Banastre Tarleton’s raid on Charlottesville in 1781 during the Revolutionary War.[3]

1782taxlively
1782 Personal Property Tax List of Amherst County, VIrginia, page 6; online http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000413/1782/1782Personal/06.pdf
1782taxlively1
1782 Personal Property Tax List of Amherst County, VIrginia, page 5; online http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/FreeSample/CDR-000413/1782/1782Personal/05.pdf

In 1782, when the first personal property taxlists were taken in Virginia, Joseph LIVELY and his oldest son Joseph were both on the list. They were not listed as Sr. and Jr. The first listing above would be for Joseph Sr. with 1 tithable, 1 slave, 27 cattle, and 12 horses. His son Joseph Jr. had 3 cattle and 2 horses. In the years after, from 1783 to 1793, when Joseph and Mary’s sons turned 16 but not yet 21 years of age, they were seen in Joseph’s tax assessment. Below, in 1790 Robert, Benjamin, and John were seen with Joseph and his oldest son was seen as Joseph Jr.

1790taxlively
1790 Personal Property Tax List for Amherst County, Virginia, page 16; online http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Amherst/1790PersonalA/16.jpg
1790taxlivelyjr
1790 Personal Property Tax List for Amherst County, Virginia, page 15; online http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Amherst/1790PersonalA/15.jpg

“Joseph paid taxes in Amherst Co. in 1782 and 1783 on 398 and 400 acres and from 1787 to 1793 on 398 acres. His estate paid taxes on the 398 acres in 1794. Joseph Lively received 400 acres of land on Thresher’s Creek in Amherst Co. adjacent lands of James Smith and Pierce Wade on 4 Aug 1777. This land Joseph and wife Mary deeded to Robert Cash of Amherst Co. on 5 Mar 1780. Another tract of 400 acres on Dutch Creek in Amherst Co. was purchased by Joseph from John Harmer on 1 Sept 1782 and sold by Joseph and wife Mary to William Cabell on 1 Jan 1787 (Amherst Co. Deeds, D:447, E:218, F:110). The origin of the remaining 398 acres has not been determined and may have been a land grant.“[4]

Not being able to go to the courthouse or archives in Virginia to research land records I often use the Library of Virginia’s Land Office Grants database:

1782land

1782landdocJoseph LIVELY was granted 400 acres on both sides of the Dutch Creek in Amherst County in 1782. This would be the land mentioned above that he sold to William Cabell in 1787. I will let John F. Vallentine continue as he compiled the following information:

“Joseph died intestate in Amherst Co. (now Nelson Co.), Va., in 1793 (Amherst Co. Wills, 3:282, 293, 450). Letters of administration were granted to Mark Lively, a son, on 22 Oct 1793 with John Hill and William Hill as bondsmen. An inventory of the estate of Joseph Lively made on 16 Dec 1793 included a considerable number of livestock, an old negro woman Sarah, a negro woman Betty, and a negro boy George. The Joseph Lively estate sale on 19 Aug 1797 listed a few of the relatives and many neighbors as purchasers. Subsequently the estate was settled but no record of final partition was included in the Amherst Co. probate records.

That the 398 acres remaining in the possession of Joseph Lively at the time of his death was later divided into 9 tracts of approximately 44 acres is shown by subsequent land sales recorded in the Amherst Co. Deeds. Eight of the heirs of Joseph Lively have been identified by this means. The same eight heirs are recorded in a common sale of personal property in Albemarle Co. belonging to Joseph’s estate (Albemarle Co. Order Books, 1795-8:331). What happened to the remaining 9th part or 44 acres in the estate partition is uncertain. No mention of Joseph’s wife Mary after his death has been found. The 398-acre tract was located on Pucker’s Creek and Babb’s Creek.”[4]

The eight identified heirs of Joseph LIVELY mentioned in the above excerpt were all born before the American Revolutionary War (19 Apr 1775- 14 Jan 1784):

  • Sib 1: Joseph LIVELY (1761-1838) born 16 June 1761 in Amherst County, Virginia. He married Sarah “Salley” TILLER on 4 November 1784 in Amherst County. Joseph died on 11 May 1838.
  • Sib 2: Benjamin LIVELY (1762-1797) born about 1762 in Amherst County, Virginia. Benjamin was on the Amherst tax lists in 1790 with his father and as a taxpayer in 1795, 1796, and 1797 on 44 acres. He was not found later and it has been assumed that he died after 1797. Note: the estimated year of birth is from Livelys of America, 1690-1968. As Benjamin was with his father in 1790 he must have been born between 1769-1774. As he was seen as a taxpayer in 1795-1797 he would have been born 1774 or earlier.
  • Sib 3: John LIVELY (1764- ) born about 1764 in Amherst County, Virginia. He was on the Amherst tax lists in 1790 with his father. John married Clara CARNALL on 19 August 1794 in Amherst County. Note: the estimated year of birth is from Livelys of America, 1690-1968. As John was with his father in 1790 he must have been born between 1769-1774.
  • Sib 4: Mark LIVELY (1766-1857) born 11 January 1766 in Amherst County, Virginia. He married Mary HILL on 30 November 1791 in Amherst County. He was on the 1799 Amherst tax list. He died on 23 November 1857 in Taylor County, Kentucky.
  • Sib 5: Robert Cash LIVELY (1768- ) born about 1768 in Amherst County, Virginia. He was on the Amherst tax lists in 1790 with his father. He married Elizabeth BETHEL on 20 August 1793 in Amherst County. Note: the estimated year of birth is from Livelys of America, 1690-1968. As Robert was with his father in 1790 he must have been born between 1769-1774.
  • Sib 6: Ruth LIVELY (1770- ) born about 1770 in Amherst County, Virginia. She married William GRIFFIN on 17 June 1793 in Amherst County.
  • Sib 7: Nancy LIVELY (1772- ) born about 1772 in Amherst County, Virginia. Nancy Lively Married Peter JOHNSON on 5 April 1794 in Amherst County, Virginia.
  • Kesiah LIVELY born about 1774 in Amherst County, Virginia.

Kesiah’s father Joseph LIVELY died before 22 October 1793 in Amherst County. It is possible that his wife Mary L. CASH predeceased him as she is not mentioned after his death. At the time of Joseph’s death his two youngest daughters, Nancy and Kesiah, and his son John were not yet married.

A little over a year after Joseph LIVELY’s death his youngest daughter Kesiah LIVELY was married to Zachariah PETERS by Rev. Ezekiel Campbell on 18 November 1794 in Amherst County.[5]

Kesiah gave birth to her first child, my 3rd great-grandfather, Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) on 10 October 1796 in Amherst County. A month later she and her husband Zachariah sold her share of her father’s estate, 1/9th of the 398 acres he left.

1796 November 21:
Zachariah Peters and his wife, Keziah, sold 44 acres in Amherst County, Virginia, for £60 (60 pounds) to William Loving.
Deed abstract: Deed Book H, p. 126.  21 November 1796.  WM. GRIFFIN & wife RUTH; ZACH. PETERS & wife KEZIAH, AC, to WM. LOVING, AC, (Orig. del. to WL, 26 Jun 1798) for 60 pounds, S branches Rucker’s Run – 2 adj. tracts.  Lines: grantee, where he lives; part of tract of JOSEPH LIVELY, dec’d, and upon equal division to RUTH & KEZIAH by JOS. LIVELY as his legatees by settlement – 44 acres each.  (Note discrepancy in acres) Page 127, order to quiz wives done and rec. 23 Nov 1796.  Wit:  JOS. LOVING, JAS. HANSBROUGH, JNO. BRYANT, JNO. STAPLES.[6]

Before leaving Amherst County for Franklin County, Kesiah and Zachariah had two daughters and another son. The names are only known for Mary and William. The other daughter remains a mystery.

The move to Franklin County occured after Zachariah was seen on the 1803 Amherst tax list. Kesiah then gave birth to Betsy about 1805 and Lucy about 1807. She also had two sons, one born between 1801-1810 whose his identity is not known, and the other being Willis born on 23 April 1808. Note: The unknown son may fit in between William b. abt. 1798 and Betsy b. abt. 1805.

After the enumeration of the 1810 census Kesiah had four more children: Joseph born 10 December 1810, a male and a female child both born between 1811-1815, and her youngest, Susannah born about 1815.

Following the birth of her last child Kesiah’s brood of a dozen children began to shrink as the oldest children began to marry. She saw the following six marry before the 1830 census.

Kesiah LIVELY  and her spouse Zachariah PETERS died between 1830-1840 in Franklin County, Virginia. It is not known who preceded whom. It is likely that they both saw their youngest known son Joseph PETERS marry Martha “Patsy” SMITH (1811-1888) on 1 September 1830 in Franklin County, Virginia (surety John Powers) as this was shortly after the 1830 census in which both were found.

Following Kesiah’s death, her youngest daughter Susannah married and two of her sons were widowed, one twice, and remarried.

Sources:
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Cash
[2] Celtic connection as Cash walks the line in Fife, Scotland on Sunday (The Scotsman) updated on 5 June 2006, accessed 22 Nov 2014.
[3] Lost Records Localities: Counties and Cities with Missing Records, in Library of Virginia (accessed 22 Nov 2014).
[4] Vallentine, John F. Livelys of America, 1690-1968. n.p.: National Association of Lively Families, 1971. FHL Book 929.273 L748v. As seen on Anna Young’s gedcom file “Our Family Tree” last updated 6 May 2007]
[5] William Montgomery Sweeny, Marriage Bonds and Other Marriage Records of Amherst County, Virginia 1763-1800 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973). Paula K. Ward, email dated 21 Nov 2004, her source: letter dated 1978 to PKW from Mrs. Gertrude C. Mann, Rocky Mount, Virginia]
[6] Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Deeds of Amherst County, Virginia, 1761-1807, and Albemarle County, Virginia, 1748-1763, Southern Historical Press, 1979, pages 126-127.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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52 Ancestors: #46 Zachariah PETERS of Franklin County, Virginia, Father of a War of 1812 Veteran

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 #46 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #46 Zachariah PETERS of Franklin County, Virginia, Father of a War of 1812 Veteran

Zachariah PETERS was born between 1766-1770 in Amherst County, Virginia, and died between 1830-1840 in Franklin County, Virginia. Although much genealogy research has been done on him by people before me, his parents are to date not known (proven).

Paula Kelley Ward, who is to be credited for her work on this family, hired Andrew S. Webb, of Lineages, Inc., to do research in 2001-2002. After seven sessions of research Mr. Webb concluded that circumstantial evidence suggests that John PETERS was the father of Zachariah PETERS as well as James PETERS and Elisha PETERS.

First let’s analyze the census and tax lists to determine when my 4th great-grandfather Zachariah was born. The estimation “between 1766-1770” was made from the age ranges seen on the 1810 to 1830 census of Franklin County, Virginia.

  • 1810 – age 26 & under 45 (1766 or later)
  • 1820 – age 45 & over (1775 or earlier > 1766-1775)
  • 1830 – age 60 & under 70 (between 1761-1770 > 1766-1770)

If the age range was correct in these three census years then he should have appeared in personal property tax lists beginning no later than 1791. Mr. Webb wrote in his report on the first session, “Personal property tax lists of Amherst County, Virginia, were searched for anyone with the surname PETERS or PETER.” He found and listed all PETERS men  for the years 1788 to 1797. Zachariah was found on:

  • 18 June 1793  with 1 tithable, 3 horses
  • 1794 – not found
  • 13 Apr 1795 with 1 tithable, 2 horses
  • 15 May 1796 with 1 tithable, 1 horse
  • 21 Jul 1797 with 1 tithable, 0 horses

Why did Zachariah go from having 3 horses to two to one to none? I had to ask the question, even though I don’t have an answer.

Surviving personal tax records for Virginia counties starting in 1782 are available on microfilm at the Library of Virginia or through interlibrary loan. Two sets for Amherst, 1790 and 1799, are available online, and can be used as a substitute for the 1790 and 1800 census.

I found Zachariah in the Personal Property Tax list of Amherst County, Virginia, in 1790. In this case Zachariah was a white tithable listed with the taxpayer Thomas NEVIL, the white tithable over the age of twenty-one. As Zachariah was not the person charged with tax he most likely was a tithable between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one. What can this mean? Is there a family relationship between Zachariah PETERS and Thomas NEVIL or his wife of two years Elizabeth TILLER?

1790taxpeters
1790 Personal Property Tax List A > Amherst County, Virginia [ accessed online http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Amherst/1790PersonalA/20.jpg ]
Mr. Webb missed Zachariah PETERS in 1790. In his report he wrote, “The appearance of Zachariah in Amherst in 1793 suggests that he lived in another county before 1793.” He does not speculate on why he was not on the 1794 tax list.

I suspect that Mr. Webb consulted only the pages with the surnames beginning with P. If he had searched through all pages he would have found Zachariah in 1790. I realize that a hired researcher works under the restraints of the client’s purse and doesn’t have the time to search page for page.

This brings up the question: Was Zachariah perhaps listed with another taxpayer in 1791 and 1792 as he was with Thomas NEVIL in 1790? I am nearly certain that Zachariah was not with a NEVIL or NEVILLE individual as researchers on the NEVILLE mailing list discussed the tax records of that family in January  and February 2000 and mention finding Zachariah in 1790 with Thomas NEVIL. I discovered this conversation only after viewing the 1790 tax lists online.

Mr. Webb suggested that as a young, single man, Zachariah may have found work outside of the county of his birth, returning to Amherst County to marry and settle down, at least until he moved to Franklin County, Virginia. This could in fact be a good possibility as I recently received this listing of marriage bonds of Amherst County in which the groom was listed as being from Bedford County. I submitted a photo duplication request for the marriage record found in  “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940” on FamilySeach.org. Will it have more information? I’ve only used this service a few times and so far all requests were received between 7-9 days. At this rate I should have it in time for 52 Ancestors: #47 Kesiah LIVELY, wife of Zachariah PETERS. (UPDATE!)

1794marriage
Courtesy of Sylvia Rogers.

Zacharias PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY were married in Amherst County on 18 November 1794. Bondsman (surety) on the marriage bond was Austin WOODY. The marriage was celebrated by the Rev. Ezekiel CAMPBELL. [1]

Two years later, on 21 November 1796, Zacharias and Kesiah were seen selling her part of her father Joseph LIVELY’s estate, 44 acres in Amherst County, to William LOVING.[2]

1799taxpeters
1799 Personal Property Tax List A > Amherst County, Virginia [ accessed online http://www.binnsgenealogy.com/VirginiaTaxListCensuses/Amherst/1799PersonalA/12.jpg ]
The image for the 1799 Personal Property Tax list shows Zachariah followed by Elisha Peters. As the lists are in alphabetical order one cannot tell if they lived close to one another or not. However on the earlier tax lists found by Mr. Webb, Elisha and Zachariah were visited the same day in 1795 indicating that they must have lived close to each other.

On 7 February 1800 Zachariah PETERS and Elisha PETERS were witnesses on the following deed:

Amherst County, Virginia, Deed Book I, page 129:  Abstract:  Rich BREEDLOVE & wife Mildred, to Nelson ANDERSON for $300, 180 acres branches S fork Rockfish.  Lines:  Jno. BALL, Wm. KEY, Glade road, Wm. CABELL, Jas. NEVIL, Thos. KEYS.  Witnesses:  Zach. NEVIL, Elisha PETERS, Zach. PETERS, Carel EADS.[3]

Once again the NEVIL name comes up as well as KEY and KEYS. Only neighbors or is there a closer relationship?

Zachariah’s Possible Parentage and Siblings

A closer analysis of abstracted records that were found previously found evidence suggesting that James, Zachariah, and Elisha PETERS were the sons of John PETERS. John does not appear to have owned land in Amherst County, but the deeds that he witnessed give a fairly clear picture of where and when he lived. John lived in the same area in which James, Zachariah, and Elisha lived. John was also closely associated with many of the same people and families with which Elisha and Zachariah were closely associated. John appears to have lived as an adult in Amherst County from 1761 through 1772. John might have died about 1773, leaving at least three very young children.[4]

This was one of the summaries made by Mr. Webb in his research reports which total 77 pages. In another summary he wrote:

Although no document clearly stating their relationship has been found yet, their ages suggest that they might have been brothers, with James born about 1765, Zachariah born between 1765 and 1770, and Elisha born in 1772. All three owned land in what is today the southern part of Nelson County.[5]

Without going into this any further I would like to give a brief run-through of the persons who may be the father and brothers of my Zachariah PETERS.

Father: John PETERS (1730- ) Birth Abt 1730/1731 in England. In September 1755, John PETER enlisted in Captain David BELL’s Company in Albemarle County. John was twenty-four years old, and five feet, four and a half inches tall. He was a weaver by occupation. John was born in England, was dark with black hair and pitted with small pox.[6]

Sibling 1: James PETERS (1765-1823) born about 1765. He married Elizabeth STEVENS (1776-1850) on 11 March 1793 in Amherst County, Virginia. He  died 1 November 1823 in Nelson County, Virginia.

Sibling 2: Elisha PETERS (1773-1862) born about 1773. He married(1) Jane TILLER (d. bef. 1806) on 1 June 1792 in Amherst County, Virginia. He married(2) Cynthia TURNER on 17 February 1806 in Amherst County. Elisha died before 24 Mar 1862 in Bedford County, Virginia.

DNA May Put a New Spin on Zachariah’s Ancestry

A descendant of Elisha PETERS and Cynthia TURNER has done autosomal DNA testing and has a match with a descendant of Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY. He wrote, “Ancestry.com said there was a 95% confidence level that [the test person] is a 4th to 6th cousin. By the birth dates, Zachariah and Elisha would be either brothers or cousins.” When it comes to DNA I am lacking in knowledge and, although normally optimistic, wonder if the connection might be for another ancestor.

Sylvia who shared the page with the Amherst marriage bonds (above) wrote on 14 November 2014, “You might be interested to know that before my father’s nephew’s death, he submitted 2 DNA samples for analysis.  Both proved to be closer in match to men with the surnames of KEY and MUNDY.” We have not discussed this further and Mundy is a name I haven’t run across.

From Amherst County to Franklin County

We know that Zachariah PETERS remained in Amherst County until 1803 when he was last seen in the Personal Property Tax lists of the county. While living in Amherst Zachariah and his wife Kesiah had at least four children. My 3rd great-grandfather Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) born 10 October 1796 was most likely their first born.

By 1810 Zachariah had moved his little family to Franklin County, Virginia, were he was seen in the census with 4 sons, 4 daughters and his wife Kesiah. His family was no longer little!

1810censuspeters
1810 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Franklin [ancestry.com]
1810 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Zachariah Peters
2 males under 10 yo (Willis & son b. 1801-1810)
2 males 10 & under 15 yo (Jordan & William)
1 male 26 & under 45 (Zachariah)
2 females under 10 yo (Elizabeth & Lucy)
2 females 10 & under 15 (Mary and daughter b. bet. 1796-1800)
1 female 26 & under 45 (Kesiah)

1820censuspeters
1820 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Franklin [ancestry.com]
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Zachariah Peters
2 males under 10 yo (Joseph b. 1810 and 1 son b. 1811-1815)
1 male 45 yo & upwards (Zachariah)
2 females under 10 yo (Susannah and daughter b. 1811-1815)
2 females 10 & under 16 yo (Elizabeth & Lucy)
2 females 16 & under 26 yo (Mary and daughter b. bet. 1796-1800)
1 female 45 yo & upwards ( Kesiah)
1 person engaged in commerce

1830censuspeters
1830 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Franklin [ancestry.com]
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Franklin County, Virginia
Zachariah Peters
2 males 15 & under 20 yo (Joseph and son b. 1811-1815)
1 male 60 & under 70 yo (Zachariah range 1761-1770)
1 female under 5 yo (granddaughter?)
2 females 15 & under 20 yo (Susannah and daughter b. 1811-1815)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (daughter b. bet. 1796-1800?)
1 female 50 & under 60 yo (Kesiah)

At this time not all of Zachariah and Kesiah’s children are known by name. These are the known and unknown children:

  • Ch 1: Jordan N. PETERS born 10 October 1796. Jordan married(1) Mary “Polly” TROUP (1799-1837) on 6 October 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. Jordan married(2) Sarah COX ( -1841) on 15 August 1837 in Franklin County, Virginia. Jordan N. PETERS married(3) Rachel PROFFITT (1817-1899) on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County, Virginia. He died 14 Octocber 1890 in Nettle Ridge, Patrick County, Virginia.
  • Ch 2: Mary PETERS born bet. 1796-1800. Mary married Samuel SMITH (1800-1884) on 18 December 1823 in Franklin County, Virginia. Her brother William PETERS was surety.
  • Ch 3: [–?–] PETERS (female) born bet. 1796-1800
  • Ch 4: William PETERS born about 1798. William married Alice “Alla” TROUP (1795-1841) 12 December 1818 in Franklin County, Virginia. William married(2) Lydia KEMPLIN (1821-1866) on 27 March 1841 in Franklin County, Virginia. Jesse EDWARDS, husband of Betsy, was surety on marriage which took place after Zachariah PETERS’ death.
  • Ch 5: Elizabeth “Betsy” PETERS born about 1805. Betsy married Jesse EDWARDS (1803-1870) on 17 June 1826 in Franklin County, Virginia. Zachariah PETERS was surety. She died between 1880-1890.
  • Ch 6: Lucy PETERS born about 1807. Lucy married Joseph JARRELL (1807- ) on 4 October 1827 in Franklin County, Virginia. Zachariah PETERS was surety. They may have gone to Tennessee.
  • Ch 7: [–?–] PETERS (male) born bet. 1801-1810
  • Ch 8: Willis PETERS born 23 Apr 1808. Willis married Ruth SMITH (1809-1884) on 21 March 1829 in Franklin County, Virginia. He died 30 March 1882 in Franklin County, Virginia. His death record names Zachariah PETERS as his father.
  • Ch 9: Joseph PETERS born 10 Dec 1810. Joseph married Martha “Patsy” SMITH (1811-1888) on 1 September 1830 in Franklin County, Virginia. He died 14 February 1892 in Rocky Station, Lee County, Virginia.
  • Ch 10: [–?–] PETERS (male) born bet. 1811-1815
  • Ch 11: [–?–] PETERS (female) born bet. 1811-1815
  • Ch 12: Susannah PETERS born  about 1815. Susannah married Andrew REEL (1813-1870) on 16 October 1839 in Franklin County, Virginia. Her father was most likely already deceased as Wm Hixon went bond. Susannah died after 1880.

Research of the Zachariah PETERS’ family is made more difficult by the fact that another group of people of German origin with the surname PETERS were living in Franklin County when Zachariah moved there.

Zachariah PETERS and his wife Kesiah LIVELY died sometime after the 1830 census and before the 1840 census.

Sources:
[1] William Montgomery Sweeny, Marriage Bonds and Other Marriage Records of Amherst County, Virginia 1763-1800 (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973). Paula K. Ward, email dated 21 Nov 2004, her source: letter dated 1978 to PKW from Mrs. Gertrude C. Mann, Rocky Mount, Virginia.
[2] Rev. Bailey Fulton Davis, The Deeds of Amherst County, Virginia, 1761-1807, and Albemarle County, Virginia, 1748-1763, Southern Historical Press, 1979, pages 126-127.
[3] Ibid., page 360
[4] Andrew S. Webb, Genealogist at Lineages Inc., Research Report (#38772 – Ward) 21 January 2002
[5] Andrew S. Webb, Genealogist at Lineages Inc., Research Report (#38772 – Ward) 17 September 2001
[6] Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Virginia’s Colonial Soldiers (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1988), 64. Reference document 8.

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #45 Cynthia SUMNER abt. 1815-aft. 1880

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 #45 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

A Note of Appreciation
I am extremely grateful to Barb Reininger for transcribing the images of the Floyd County, Virginia Marriages for the years 1831 to 1900 from copies of the microfilmed records made by Rena Worthen and for making the transcription available online. Rena wrote 7 Oct 2014 in a comment on the Facebook group Floyd County Virginia Genealogy, “It was a big project, took a lot of work and money to make it possible.” From Barb’s transcription I was able to make a list of 218 marriages performed by my 5th great-grandfather Owen SUMNER during the years 1838-1874, one-tenth of which were performed at his residence. Imagine 218 events that I know he participated in!

52 Ancestors: #45 Cynthia SUMNER abt. 1815-aft. 1880

Cynthia SUMNER, my 4th great-grandmother, went by many names during her lifetime. From the time that she was little until her death her first name was spelled in several different ways – Sintha, Cintha, Cyntha, Sinthy, Sintia, Cynthia – but she was never known as Cindy. She went from using her maiden name SUMNER to using her married name LESTER until the death of her husband and her remarriage when she took the surname of her second husband, COX.

Cynthia was the daughter of the Reverend Owen SUMNER (1796-1874) and his first wife Sarah “Sally” NEWTON (1800-1860). Owen and Sally were married on 23 November 1813 in Montgomery County, Virginia. This was during the War of 1812 (18 Jun 1812-24 Dec 1814), a war that Owen served in. Sally was from neighboring Patrick County. [I’m impatiently waiting for them to get around to digitizing the War of 1812 Pension Records for names beginning with P for Peters and S for Sumner.]

Cynthia SUMNER was born about 1815 in what was then Montgomery County, Virginia. She was the first of eleven known children born to Owen and Sally. Her siblings were:

  • Sib 2: Sarah “Sary” SUMNER (1817-1842) born about 1817 in Montgomery County, Virginia. She married Joel ROSS (1801-aft.1870) on 24 September 1835 in Floyd County. They were the parents of two children. Sarah died 20 February 1842 in Floyd County. When Joel remarried two years later his father-in-law (from his first marriage) Owen SUMNER performed the marriage.
  • Sib 3: Joel “Owen” SUMNER (1820-1900) born January 1820 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He married Lucinda E. THOMPSON (1826-1900) on 15 February 1844 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were the parents of eleven children. Joel died between 1900-1910.
  • Sib 4: Jesse SUMNER (1824-1861) born about 1824 in Montgomery County, Virginia. He married Timandra SUMPTER (1826-1912) on 9 December 1845 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were the parents of six children. Jesse died 10 November 1861 in Floyd County, Virginia
  • Sib 5: Susan A. SUMNER (1828-1913) born 24 March 1828 in Montgomery County, Virginia. She married Jacob CORRELL (1817-1888) on 22 January 1852 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were the parents of six children. Susan died 20 August 1913
  • Sib 6: John G. “Jehu” SUMNER (1835-1880) born about 1830 in Floyd County, Virginia. He married Elizabeth SOWERS (1841-1915) on 20 August 1863 in Floyd County at the home of Owen SUMNER. They were the parents of six children. John died between 1880-1900.
  • Sib 7: Joshua SUMNER (1833-1919) born December 1832 in Floyd County, Virginia. Joshua married(1) Mary G. EARLY (1821- ) on 19 July 1854 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were the parents of three children. He married(2) the widow Joe Ellen CRENSHAW (maiden name unknown) on 24 Aug 1892 in Bedford County, Virginia. They had one son. Joshua died 19 November 1919 in Bedford County, Virginia
  • Sib 8: Joseph L. SUMNER (1835-1888) born 17 January 1835 in Floyd County, Virginia. He married Julia Ann HARRIS (1837-1889) on 4 September 1856 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were the parents of six children. Joseph died 30 January 1888 in Brookline, Greene County, Missouri
  • Sib 9: Jonathan Newton “Jathan” SUMNER (1838-1882) born about 1838 in Floyd County, Virginia. He married Sarah Ann BOOTH (1836-1893) on 18 September 1855 in Floyd County, Virginia. They had eight children. Even though he was married, Jathan had a “permanent liason” with Fannie Duncan. He eventually left his wife to settle in Tennessee with Fannie and their children. He died about 1882 Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee.
  • Sib 10: Jubal SUMNER (1841-1892) born about 1841 in Floyd County, Virginia. He never married. Jubal died 8 November 1892.
  • Sib 11: Jane SUMNER (1845-1900) born about 1845 in Floyd County, Virginia. She married Jacob WADE (1849-1937) on 5 December 1867 in Floyd County, Virginia, at Owen Sumner’s residence. They were the parents of six children. Jane and Jacob divorced before 24 August 1879. Jane died between 1900-1910.

Cynthia’s known siblings “fit” into the family group of Owen SUMNER as seen in his pre-1850 and 1850 census listings. However from 1826 to 1830 the family may have grown by another 2 boys as reflected in the 1830 and 1840 censuses but they remain unknown. Owen and Sally named all their boys with names beginning with a J. – Joel, Jesse, Joshua, Joseph, John or Jehu, Jonathan or Jathan, and Jubal. Only their youngest daughter Jane was giving the same honor. If we consider that my Cynthia’s name was also spelled with an S, it could be said that they named all their girls, except Jane, with names beginning with an S – Syntha, Sarah, and Susan.

Getting back to the boys, could this mean that there are two SUMNER men b. bet. 1825-1830, perhaps with names beginning with a J, who did not remain in Floyd County in 1850 or later? Did these boys die before the 1850 census? Could one of them have married a lady named Nancy – a 20 years old girl of this name is seen in Owen’s household in 1850 – but she does not fit into the family group as seen in the pre-1850 census?

1820censussumner
1820 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Montgomery > Blacksburg [ancestry.com]
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Montgomery County, Virginia
Blacksburg
Page No. 183
Owen Sumner
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1 (Joel)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Owen)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Cynthia and Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Sally)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 16: 3
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 5

1830censussumner
1830 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Montgomery > Christiansburg [ancestry.com]
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Montgomery County, Virginia
Christiansburg
Page No. 91
Owen Sumner
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 3 (John, 2 unknown b. bet. 1826-1830)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (Joel and Jesse)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (unknown, too old to be a son)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Owen)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Susan)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Cynthia)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Sally)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 8
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 11
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

1840censussumner
1840 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd [ancestry.com]
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
Page No. 186
Owen Sumner
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 3 (Joseph, Jonathan, and 1 unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (Joshua)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 2 (John and 1 unknown, seen in 1830)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Jesse and 1 unknown, seen in 1830)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Joel)
Free White Persons – Males – 40 thru 49:  1 (Owen)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Susan)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Sally)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 5
White Persons – Deaf and Dumb – Under 14: 1 (son John)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 9
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 12
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 12

1850censussumner
1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Western District 15 [ancestry.com]
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
The Western District No. 15
Enumerated the 21st day of August, 1850. Joseph Howard, Ass’t Marshal.
Page No. 431
HH #759-759
Owen Sumner 54 M Bapt. Minister $2500
Sarah Sumner 49 F
Joshua Sumner 17 M Laborer attended school within year
Joseph Sumner 15 M
John Sumner 20 M cannot read & write Deaf & Dumb
Jonathan Sumner 12 M
Jabell Sumner 9 M
Susan Sumner 21 F cannot read & write
Jane Sumner 4 F
Nancy Sumner 20 F (does not fit into the family group, a daughter-in-law?)
Note: All persons in the household were noted as born in North Carolina. I believe that the place of birth column was incorrectly filled out by the enumerator. In later years they are listed as born in Virginia.

Let’s Talk About Cynthia

Cynthia SUMNER was about 19 years old when she married 22 years old Jacob LESTER on 4 September 1834 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were married by Jesse Jones. Elder Jones had baptized Cynthia’s father Owen on 17 March 1822 when he united with the Primitive Baptist Church at West Fork, in Floyd County, Virginia.

A couple of years later Cynthia became a mother for the first time when she gave birth to her daughter, my 3rd great-grandmother, Emaline LESTER about 1836. About a year later her son George Washington LESTER was born. Both children were born in Floyd County and were reflected in the 1840 census record of their father Jacob LESTER.

1840censuslester
1840 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd [ancestry.com]
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
Page No. 181
Jacob Lester
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Jacob)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Emaline)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Cynthia)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 4

Cynthia was only 27 when her husband Jacob died about 1842 in Floyd County leaving her with two small children. She was not a widow for long as she married John W. COX on 1 June 1843 in Floyd County, Virginia. She had one child with John, a daughter Susan L. COX (1846-1861) born about 1846. She was not born in North Carolina as seen on the following census listing:

1850censuscox
1850 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Western District 15 [ancestry.com]
1850 U.S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
The Western District No.15
Enumerated the 21st day of August, 1850. Joseph Howard, Ass’t Marshal.
Page No. 431
HH # 758-758
John W. Cox 30 M Laborer North Carolina
Cintha Cox 35 F North Carolina cannot read & write
Susan Cox 4 F North Carolina
Emeline Lester  14 F North Carolina

The enumerator wrote in North Carolina for state of birth for John W. COX and then “do” (ditto) for the rest of the family and the next household, that of Owen SUMNER. Cynthia, her daughters, and everyone in her father’s household were born in Virginia.

In the mid-1850s Cynthia saw her two older children marrying a daughter and a son of James ROOP and Elizabeth CARROLL:

Both couples had two children each before the 1860 census, giving Cynthia her first four grandchildren, all born in Floyd County. Unfortunately life was not all about marriages and births as Cynthia lost her second husband, John W. COX sometime during the 1850s. Her older children had their own households leaving her along with her youngest daughter Susan.

1860censuscox
1860 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd [ancestry.com]
1860 U.S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
Enumerated the 23/25 June, 1850. Geo. M. Wells, Ass’t Marshal.
Flat Head Post Office, Page No. 48, Sheet No. 482
HH #345-324
Cyntha Cox 45 F Farming $0 $50 Virginia cannot read & write
Susan Cox 14 F Virginia

Following the enumeration of the 1860 census another death took place. Cynthia’s mother  Sarah “Sally” NEWTON died 22 September 1860 in Floyd County, Virginia.

The American Civil War year (1861-1865) brought more marriages, births, and deaths in Cynthia’s life.

Five months after her mother died, Cynthia’s daughter Susan L. COX married Marshall Elijah Francis MOORE (1841-1862) on 7 February 1861 in Floyd County. A month later another wedding took place. Cynthia’s father Owen (65) married Lucinda SOWERS on 11 March 1861 in Floyd County. Even though Lucinda (26) was young when they married, they would not have any children during their nearly fourteen years of marriage.

Cynthia’s daughter Susan became pregnant as soon as she married as she gave birth to a daughter Cynthia MOORE (1861-1861) on 7 November 1861 in Floyd County. The child, named after her maternal grandmother, lived less than three weeks, dying on 24 November 1861. The mother Susan died the next day.

Three more grandchildren were born, including my second great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) who was born on 6 May 1862 in Floyd County. His father Gordon H. ROOP, Cynthia’s son-in-law, would not come home from the war to see his wife Emaline LESTER holding their youngest babe. He died on the 1st of November 1863 in Georgia.

After the end of the Civil War Cynthia’s widowed daughter Emaline LESTER married Pleasant D. EPPERLY (1848-1920) on 8 February 1869 in Floyd County. Their marriage of eight years would not bare fruit.

In 1870 Cynthia had a young lady named Dolly Ann Eldridge in her household. I believe that this may be her granddaughter Dollie Ann Ellen ROOP but have no explanation as to why she would be listed with the Eldridge surname. There were no other people with this surname in Floyd County. Although Dollie and her two brothers were enumerated with their mother Emaline in 1870, it’s possible that Dollie was with her grandmother. Also with Cynthia was her baby sister Jane SUMNER and Jane’s first born daughter Elizabeth WADE.

1870censuscox
1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge [ancestry.com]
1870 U. S. Federal census
Floyd County, Virginia
Alum Ridge Township, Page No. 8
Enumerated the 4th day of August, 1870. B. P. Elliott, Ass’t Marshal.
Floyd Court House Virginia Post Office, Sheet No. 4B
HH #55-53
Cox, Cynthia 50 F W Keeping House $0 $100 Virginia
Eldridge, Dolly Ann 15 F W At Home Virginia
Wade, Jane 23 F W without occupation Virginia
Wade, Elizabeth 1 F W Virginia

The first of Cynthia’s grandchildren to marry was Dollie Ann Ellen ROOP. She married Giles SUMNER (1855-1929) on 7 November 1873 in Floyd County. A year later Cynthia’s father Owen SUMNER died 20 November 1874 in Alum Ridge, Floyd County.

Cynthia would lose her oldest daughter Emaline LESTER to consumption on 3 December 1877 in Floyd County. This left her with only one living child, her son George W. LESTER who moved to Raleigh County, West Virginia, with his family before 1880.

Although her son was no longer in Floyd County, her deceased daughter Emaline’s three children were married and still living in the area. Cynthia had only a servant with her in 1880 but some of her siblings lived nearby. Her baby sister Jane, who was living with their step-mother Lucinda, was divorced and, strange for the times, the children were living with her ex-husband who had remarried. Her youngest brother Jubal, still a bachelor, was living with their sister Susan’s family and brothers Joel and John were in the county with their families. Joshua had left Floyd County for Bedford County sometime in the 1870s. Jonathan had finally left his wife and moved to Tennessee to be with the second family he had with the “other woman” Fannie DUNCAN. Cynthia had most likely not seen her brother Joseph since he moved to Tennessee about 1859.

1880censuscox
1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge [ancestry.com]
1880 U. S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
Alum Ridge Township, Pge No. 31
Enumeration District No. 25, Sheet No. 276B
Enumerated the 25th day of June, 1880. H. M. Booth, enumerator.
HH # 278-278
Cox, Cynthia W F 67 widowed Keeping House Virginia Virginia Virginia
Iddings, China W F 24 single Servant Virginia Virginia Virginia

Cynthia’s step-mother Lucinda SOWERS died in 1886 at the age of 50. Was Cynthia still living when she died sometime between 1880 and 1890 in Floyd County? Family tradition recounted on 22 February 1999 by Peggy Burton Rich:

“It is said that Cynthia (Sumner) would light her pipe by the rays of the sun and that she died of smoker’s cancer.”

After her death, Cynthia’s only living child, George left his wife and married Lucy Diane DILLON (1868-1948) on 12 November 1890 in Carroll County, Virginia. They had seven children before George died. The last child was born in 1905, the family was not found in 1910, and by 1920 Lucy was with a much younger George E. LESTER. It is not known when George died. Family tradition according to Charlotte Bristow goes like this:

“According to my mother, Lucy married George’s cousin who lived nearby, but she cannot recall his name. As a child, she was told that the second marriage didn’t last long because the cousin died from a gunshot. She believes someone thought he was an intruder. I don’t know of any documentation on this marriage. Lucy married for the third time in 1922 to Albert Burdick, who was the father of my maternal grandfather, Carl Burdick…..My mother thinks this may have been a marriage of convenience, so that Dessie’s mother [Lucy] and Carl’s father [Albert] could share a home.”

Now wouldn’t that be a story worth finding documentation on?

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #44 Jacob LESTER 1812-1842

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 #44 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

52 Ancestors: #44 Jacob LESTER 1812-1842

Jacob Hiley LESTER or Jacob LESTER? Strange how for years you accept a person’s name without wondering where it came from.

Marguerite Tise in her book The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (copyright 1996) refers to my 4th great-grandfather as Jacob LESTER – without a middle name or initial.

Jerry Curtis Lester, who thinks of Marguerite as the “Queen of Lester Genealogy,” wrote:

“Remarkable, Marguerite did not use a computer to produce the manuscript of her book. She did it on a typewriter! And, she included the most complete index I have ever seen! Every person mentioned in the text is in the index with all the page numbers where the person is mentioned. At least, I’ve not found any exceptions. I’ve seen no “typos” or misspelled words or inconsistent formatting, and the formatting is very systematic with numbering, letters and indenting to delineate the various generations. I’m blown away by what she was able to do in her late 80’s. Her mind was so good.”[1]

Door16Jacob’s Parents and Siblings

Jacob’s parents were born during the American Revolutionary War (19 Apr 1775-14 Jan 1784). His father, John LESTER Jr. (1776-1851) was born on 7 March 1776 in Montgomery County, Virginia.[2] This was the year that Fincastle County became extinct as it was divided to form Montgomery, Washington, and Kentucky (now the state of Kentucky) Counties. His mother, Mary Ann “Polly” TERRY (1781-1862) was born on 3 February 1781, also in Montgomery County.[3]

On 30 September 1802 John LESTER Jr. was granted 190 acres “on Cockpitt branch waters of Brush Creek and some of the waters of Little River a branch of New River in Montgomery County.”[4]

1802marriage
05 Oct 1802 Lester-Terry Marriage record 007579015_00333 [received 3 Nov 2014 per email from FamilySearch’s “Request Photo Duplication” service]
John and Polly married a few days later, on 5 October 1802 in Montgomery County, Virginia.[5] They lived near his parents for the first 18 years of their marriage. “In 1820 John bought the large home tract of Charles Simmons and moved to present Floyd County. He lived about six miles north of the present town of Floyd. The house stood some distance behind the white frame house of George Simmons which was built years later and is now seen on the hill on present Route 8. Lester Cemetery #5 was on his place. It has since been destroyed.”[6]

In the late summer of 1997 Jerry Lester and Marguerite Tise made a trip around the Little River area. Jerry wrote, “I spent most of a day with Marguerite driving around Floyd Co., Va., at her direction while she pointed out family sites of interest to me (and her). I used my notebook computer with map software and GPS connection to record on the map the places of interest.”[7] Jerry made voice recordings of this trip down memory lane with Marguerite Tise.

map
NW of Floyd, Floyd County, Virginia. Courtesy of Jerry Curtis Lester, used with permission.

John and Polly were the parents of nine children, all born in Montgomery County as Floyd County would not be formed until 1831:

  • Child 1: Hulen “Hugh” LESTER (1803-1880) born about 1803. Hulen married(1) Margaret SNYDER ( -1847) on 20 February 1823 in Montgomery County. They were the parents of 6 children. He married(2) Mary [–?–] LESTER (1814-1870) before 1847 in Shelby County, Indiana. They were the parents of 3 children. Hulen died 1880 in Shelby County, Indiana.
  • Child 2: Matilda LESTER (1805-1826) born about 1805. Matilda married Archelaus WEDDLE (1799-1870) on 23 September 1825 in Montgomery County. She died bet. 1826-1829 in Virginia. John LESTER Jr. left a bequest of $100 to his granddaughter, Julia Ann WEDDLE, daughter of Matilda. It is believed that she was the only child of this marriage.
  • Child 3: Malinda LESTER (1807-1890) born about 1807. Malinda married Riley BOOTHE (1801-1870) on 26 May 1831 in Floyd County (marriage bond). They were the parents of 3 children, one died young. She died bet. 1890-1900 in Floyd County.
  • Child 4: John LESTER (1808-1852) born 1 November 1808. John married Mary GARDNER (1812-1881) on 30 November 1832 in Montgomery County. They were the parents of 10 children. He died 1 April 1852 in Floyd County, Virginia.
  • Child 5: Amos Terry LESTER (1810-1890) born 30 November 1810. Amos married Susannah Jane LESTER (1814-1888) on 19 March 1835 in Floyd County. They were first cousins and parents of 10 children. He died on 14 February 1890 in Brown County, Indiana.
  • Child 6: Jacob LESTER born about 1812. More about this child below.
  • Child 7: Bird LESTER (1815-1864) born 1815. Bird married(1) Matilda SIMMONS (1820-1858) on 16 December 1835 in Floyd County. They were the parents of 8 children. He married(2) Rowena Mahulda LAMBERT (1818-?) on 6 July 1858 in Wyoming County, (West) Virginia. They had no known children. Bird died about 1864 in West Virginia.
  • Child 8: William Terry LESTER(1818-1890) born 18 Jan 1818. William married Mary Amanda “Polly” SIMMONS (1824-1887) on 2 March 1840 in Floyd County. They were the parents of 9 children. William died on 4 March 1890 in Floyd County, two days after his 50th wedding anniversary.
  • Child 9: Catherine Jane LESTER (1823-1902) born 13 March 1823. Catherine married James BOOTHE (1820-1863) on 10 October 1842 in Floyd County. They were the parents of 10 children. By 1863 four of these children were dead. James became deranged and shot himself. At the inquisition, Bird LESTER, Catherine’s brother, and Hulin BOOTHE, his 10 year old son, testified. Catherine died 30 January 1902.

In 1831, when Floyd County was formed, John LESTER was appointed a Justice of the Peace by the Governor of Virginia making him a member of the first Floyd County Court. He served the community in that capacity until his death. He also served as Sheriff of Floyd County in 1844-1845. He was a prominent and influential citizen, a successful farmer, a large land owner, and a slave owner.[8]

Courtship and Marriage

If you take another look at the map above you’ll see that John LESTER’s neighbor was the Rev. Owen SUMNER. Living in such close proximity, their children must have known each other growing up after John moved to the area. Owen’s oldest daughter Cynthia caught the attention of John’s son Jacob. We don’t know how long they courted but by the time Cynthia was 19 and Jacob 22, they were united in marriage by Jesse Jones. The marriage bond was taken out in Floyd County on 18 August 1834 and the marriage took place on 4 September 1834 in Floyd County. Cynthia SUMNER’s name was spelled “Sintha” on the marriage register and “Senthy” on the bond.[9]

A year and a half after Jacob married he was a witness to a land transaction. On 9 May 1836 his first cousin Champ LESTER bought land from George and Nancy REED. Although others named on the deed have middle initials his name is seen as Jacob LESTER:

Floyd County, VA DB A, pg. 417:
9 May 1836 between George Reed and Nancy his wife of Floyd County, VA and Champain Lester of Patrick County, VA for $350 land containing 145 acres on the gap fork of Beaver Creek, a branch of Little River bounded . . . on Andrew E. Reeds line. In presents of: And. E. Reed, Amos T. Lester, Jacob Lester signed: George (his x mark) Reed, Nancy (her __ mark) Reed (left blank) recorded: Floyd June Court 1836.[10]

About the same time Jacob and Cynthia had their first child Emaline LESTER (1836-1877) born about 1836 in Floyd County. About a year later their son George Washington LESTER (1837- ) was born, also in Floyd County.

Once again in 1840 when the census was enumerated we see only Jacob’s first and last name listed – no middle initial.

1840censuslester
1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd (ancestry.com)

1840 U.S. Federal Census
Floyd County, Virginia
Page No. 181
Jacob Lester
1 male under 5 yo (George W.)
1 male 20 & under 30 yo (Jacob)
1 female under 5 yo (Emaline)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (Cynthia)
4 persons in household
1 person engaged in agriculture

A Short Life Ends

Jacob LESTER died about 1842 in Floyd County, Virginia. His widow remarried in June of 1843.

“Jacob Lester died about the age of 30, cause of death unknown. John Lester III* was appointed administrator of the estate in Feb. 1844. The appraisers, Isaac Moore, Riley Boothe, Topal O. Watkins, reported their appraisal of the estate as $106.12 1/2. The sale was held on March 8, 1844, which amounted to $105.75. There was a delay of two years in settling the estate of Jacob Lester, and his wife had remarried in the meantime. The reason for the delay is not known.” [11]

Two other sources also refer to the appraisal of Jacob LESTER’s estate being made in March 1844.[12], [13]

*After John Lester Jr.’s father passed away in 1825 he was known as John LESTER Sr. in the census and his son John was given the suffix Jr. To avoid confusion, John Lester Jr., father of my Jacob, has been named John LESTER II by earlier researchers. His father was John LESTER I and his son was John LESTER III.

Jacob’s father, John LESTER Jr. (aka John LESTER II) died 21 September 1851 in Floyd County, Virginia.

“His will, dated April 19, 1851, probated October 16, 1851, names his wife Mary and his nine children. He appointed his sons John III and William T. as executors of his estate. John III died suddenly seven months after his father’s death and the administration of the estate passed through several hands. The estate was not properly settled and much of it was dissipated. In 1890, years after John’s death, some of the heirs brought suit to gain possession of their inheritance. Nearly all of the principals had died by that time but eventually a satisfactory settlement was reached. The suit furnished some previously unknown information about the family.”[14]

The abstract of the will of John LESTER proved October 1851 names wife Mary; children Malinda Booth, Katherine Booth, Noah L., Hewline, John, Amos, Bird and William; grandchildren, George Washington and Emmeline Lester (children of deceased son, Jacob); two daughters of his deceased son Hewline and his first wife, Margaret; and Juliann Weddle (daughter of Matilda Weddle).[15]

Was Noah a son of Jacob?

This abstract brings up the question: Who is Noah L. LESTER? Some people believe that he was a son of my Jacob as he is seen in the 1850 census listing of John LESTER along with Jacob’s son George. This was after Jacob’s death. His widow had remarried and was seen in 1850 with her 2nd husband John W. COX, their 4 years old daughter Susan, and Cynthia’s daughter Emaline from her marriage to Jacob LESTER.

However in the 1840 census Jacob had only one son listed in his household. His father John had a young male in his household in 1840 who could have been Noah who was born abt. 1834. A copy of the will needs to be obtained, or a true wording of the document, to determine the relationship of Noah to John and Polly. Marguerite Tise does not mention Noah LESTER in her book. John’s wife Polly, who had her last child at age 43, could not have been the mother of Noah as he was born when she was 53 years old. By 1860 Noah was married with 4 children. Polly was living with her son William T. LESTER, one of the executors of John’s estate. Polly died 14 February 1862 in Floyd County. Noah and his family have not been located after 1860.

Jacob’s Name

We still have the unresolved problem of Jacob’s middle name. The transcript of his son George’s 1855 marriage record to Amanda ROOP includes his father’s name as Jacob LESTER. When his daughter Emaline married Gordon H. ROOP in 1856 her father was listed as Jacob LESTER by her grandfather Owen SUMNER who performed the marriage.

FDCJacobSo where does the middle name Hiley come from? Do you remember when you first began doing your family history? Everything and anything was added to your family tree. And, let’s be honest, back then when we were new to genealogy we believed everything that we found on ancestry.com.

The death date on this should set off all kinds of warning bells. How could Jacob have died in 1845 when his estate was appraised in March 1844 and his widow remarried in June 1843? So I clicked on Learn more…

FDCinfoThe Family Data Collection was compiled for genetic research and did not require the same type of documentation as traditional genealogical research. The information came from “birth, marriage and death records; obituaries; probate records; books of remembrance; family histories; genealogies; family group sheets; pedigree charts; and other sources.”

Someone submitted a family group sheet or other compilation on the Jacob LESTER family and included the middle name Hiley. As long as a primary source for his “assumed” middle name is missing, I will consider it speculation. If anyone reading this knows of a document (entry in a family Bible, etc.) that lists Hiley as the middle name of my 4th great-grandfather Jacob LESTER, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Sources:
[1] Jerry Lester, 28 Jan 2005, online http://jerrylester.com/Tise%20Introduction/
[2] Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia  (Copyright 1996 Marguerite Tise, P.O. Box 343, Floyd, VA 24091-0343).
[3] Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (1996)
[4] Land Office Grants No. 51, 1802-1803, p. 113 (Reel 117); Luster, John Jr.; Library of Virginia; online http://lva1.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/F/?func=file&file_name=find-b-clas30&local_base=CLAS30.
[5] “Virginia, Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XR8V-MQT : accessed 02 Nov 2014), John Lester and Polly Terry, 05 Oct 1802; citing Montgomery County, Virginia, reference P 95; FHL microfilm 32633.
[6] Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (1996)
[7] Jerry Lester, 28 Jan 2005, online http://jerrylester.com/Tise%20Introduction/
[8] Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (1996)
[9] Floyd County, Virginia, Marriages 1831-1900; transcribed by Barbara Reininger from images copied from microfilm by Rena Worthen; FCVA1834_0002; FCVA1834_0048. Register: 2. Page: 128. online http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~barbr/Female_S.htm. Note: Barbara Reininger lists: Jacob (Jacob Hiley) Lester. Cannot tell if she transcribed the middle name from the marriage register or got it from another source.
[10] Susan M. Jurban, Reed Land Deeds – Montgomery County, VA from LDS films 0032611, 0032612, 0032613 read & transcribed  April, 2001. Shared on Barbara Reininger’s site Families of Floyd Co., Virginia, online http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~barbr/zz_research_reed_land_deeds.htm.
[11] Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (1996); page 20
[12] Abstracts From Floyd Co, Virginia Will Book I, Barbara Reininger’s Families of Floyd County, Virginia site, online http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~barbr/zz_will_fcva_abstr_book1.htm
[13] Anne Lowry Worrell, Over the Mountain Men: Early Court Records in Southwest Virginia,  (1962), page 53
[14] Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (1996)
[15] Abstracts From Floyd Co, Virginia Will Book I, Barbara Reininger’s Families of Floyd County, Virginia site, online http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~barbr/zz_will_fcva_abstr_book1.htm

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #25 Rachel PROFFITT 1817-1899, Widow of War of 1812 Pensioner

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

Note: The Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) on ancestry.com and its sister sites last Monday took the site down for two days. This is still being felt in the genealogy world as several of the “minor” sites are still down. My apologies for links to Rootsweb pages in this post that are not working.

#25 Rachel PROFFITT 1817-1899, Widow of War of 1812 Pensioner

Rachel PROFFITT, my third great-grandmother, was born about 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia. Although her married life is well documented, the names of her parents have not been found in any written records. Her maiden name is seen on the death certificate of her youngest child Nannie Ellen CATES who died in 1942.1

1942 Nannie Ellen Cates death
Certificate of Death for Mrs. Nannie Ellen Cates

Many online GEDCOMs show that she was the daughter of David PROFFITT and Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM who married on 21 October 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia.2 Another possibility is that she was the daughter of Austin PROFFITT and Martha RAKES who married on 4 June 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia.3 Austin and David were brothers and the only children of Austin PROFFITT who died before 1803. Their mother “Betsey Prophet” is enumerated with her two young sons ages between 10 and 15 years on the 1810 census of Franklin County4 and may also be reflected in the household of her son Austin in 1820 and 1830.4,5,6 The ages found for the brothers in the 1850 and later censuses show they were quite young when they married in 1813.

Since I believe that there are unresolved questions concerning Rachel’s parentage, I’ll begin her story with her marriage to Jordan N. PETERS. This will give me time to do further research for my blogposts on her parents which are scheduled for weeks #48 and #49.

Rachel Marries at 24

Jordan N. PETERS, twice widowed with 10 children at home between the ages of 2 and 20 years [Peninah 2, William 6, Martha 8, Jane 10, James 12, Jonathan 14, Mary 16, Stephen 17, Zachariah 19  and Henry 20] needed a wife and a mother for his children. He was 45 years old when he married Rachel PROFFITT who was 24 years old. Jordan’s second wife Sarah COX had died five months earlier after giving birth to a child who did not survive.7 Rev. John Turner of the Hard Shell Baptist Church married Jordan and Rachel on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County. There is no official record of marriage as we learned in Jordan’s War of 1812 pension papers.8

Eleven months later Rachel gave birth to her first child Sarah “Sallie” on 2 November 1842.9 The child may have been named for her father’s second wife, as the first daughter born to a new marriage was often named after the deceased wife. A second possibility, which earlier researchers may have assumed, is that she was named after her maternal grandmother. This would explain why Rachel is consistently seen as the daughter of David and Sarah, not Austin and Martha.

Rachel continued having children less than two years apart: Joseph W. on 12 May 1844, Moses Samuel on 25 January 1846, Keziah Lucy about 1847, and Amanda Angeline on 2 October 1850.10 At the time of her 10th wedding anniversary, Rachel was finally getting a rest from caring for her extra-large family. She had five young ones of her own and nearly all of her step-children were married or old enough to take care of themselves. The time between the births grew to 3-4 years for the next four daughters: Caroline “Callie” was born on 13 June 185311, Milla Susan on 6 December 185612, Mary Elizabeth on 25 March 186013, and Nancy Ellen “Nannie” on 20 July 1864.14

Before the Civil War (1861-1865) Rachel’s oldest daughter Sallie married her first cousin David C. PETERS (1838-1906) on 21 January 1859 in Franklin County. An error was made on the marriage record. The names of the mothers of the bride and groom were switched and read Willis & Rachel and Jordan & Ruth instead of Willis & Ruth and Jordan & Rachel.15

The Civil War Years

As with so many other families during these times, Rachel and her husband Jordan would have sad memories of the Civil War. Both sons served on the Confederate side during the war between the states. Joseph enlisted on 8 March 1862 and was admitted to the hospital in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia, where he died of unknown causes on 18 April 1862.16,17 Moses enlisted two years later on 22 April 1864 as a private in Company H, Virginia 4th Infantry Regiment.18 Rachel would see Moses come home after the war, marry and raise a large family.

Not only did Jordan and Rachel lose their son Joseph during the war, but their home was burned down in February of 1865, the year of the surrender. In later years, as they fought for Jordan’s War of 1812 pension, they would be reminded of this loss as the family bible and other important papers went up in smoke. The death of daughter Milla Susan ROOP and her young daughter in a house fire in 1891 most likely also brought sad memories of these times to Rachel after she lost her husband in 1890.19

Rachel’s Children Marry

Following the Civil War, Rachel’s children began to marry:

Ch 3: Moses Samuel PETERS married Elizabeth A. “Betty” TRUSLER (1854-1936) on 10 August 1869 at Jesse Edward’s in Floyd County, Virginia.20

Ch 5: Amanda Angeline “Mandy” PETERS married William Pascal BEVERLY (1844-1924) on 20 February 1873 in Montgomery County, Virginia.21

Ch 4: Keziah Lucy PETERS married Elkanah Yates MASSEY (1845- ) on 8 November 1874 in Patrick County, Virginia.22

Ch 6: Caroline “Callie” PETERS married Edward CLARK (1858-1930) on 3 November 1877 at the bride’s residence in Floyd County.23

Ch 7: Milla Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) on 1 January 1880 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County.24

Ch 8: Mary Elizabeth F. “Emma” PETERS married James Thomas PRICE (1848-1938) on 10 October 1881 at Jordan Peters’ residence in Floyd County.25 She divorced him and married Peter ROTOLO in 1894.26 She was widowed and married Bernet James TILLEY in 1902.27

Ch 9: Nancy Ellen “Nannie” PETERS married John J. CATES (1864-1921) on 28 December 1882 in Patrick County.28

Rachel and Jordan’s Later Years

By the time Rachel’s youngest daughters had married, her elderly husband Jordan was in his early 80s and finally receiving his well-earned pension. They would have less than eight years to enjoy their first time alone as a couple. Jordan N. PETERS died on 14 October 1890 at Nettle Ridge in Patrick County of old age – he was 94.29 Rachel and Jordan would have celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary a few months later. They were married twice as long as Jordan was married to his first two wives.

Rachel Has Difficulties Getting her Widow’s Pension

The year following Jordan’s death his widow Rachel began giving evidence in order to claim her widow’s pension. The government was not able to identify the claim “from the data given.” The government files were still in disorder.

The Government would not grant Rachel a pension unless she could prove that she had been lawfully married to Jordan. Rachel was determined to provide some evidence but the Family Bible had turned to ashes in the 1865 fire that destroyed the Peters’ home. It was common practice at that time for people to pack up their Family Bibles and send them to the Government to verify marriages and other relationships in order to obtain their pensions. Complicating matters, the Clerk of Court in Franklin County could find no record of their marriage.

In order to prove her case, this elderly lady, 74 years old, walked many miles in the rain over muddy mountain roads to get sworn statements from friends, neighbors, the Clerk of Court and the Justice of the Peace. In March 1891, Rachel sent a letter to her law firm in Washington, D.C.: “…If you want the evidence of a U.S. Marshal, I can get it from Han Woolwine of this county who knows me well, but he resides at Stuart 13 miles from here…The Judge of the court lives 27 miles from here and the Clerk of the court 13 miles. This is a long and mountainous county and the mud in the roads are hardly passable…I have to walk around to get up this evidence, and you see my age, I am old…it is raining almost every day…”

MRIN00056 Rachel Proffitt Peters letter from War of 1812 package
Rachel’s 1891 letter to her law firm in Washington D.C. found in Jordan N. PETER’s War of 1812 pension file. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Rachel’s friends and neighbors were indignant that she had to go to such lengths to prove her marriage. The Justice of the Peace, Mr. W. H. Cooper, was a friend who had known Jordan and Rachel for several years. Before he signed his name to his own testimony in her behalf, he added the following crusty comment: “…and I have known them for 9 or 10 years and they lived together as man and wife in this community and if they had not been so, I should have had them indicted for unlawful cohabitation and tried.”

Rachel’s effort was successful and within six months she was granted a pension of $12.00 per month plus the accrued pension due her from the date of Jordan’s death.30

Rachel PROFFITT received her pension for eight years before dying on 5 March 1899 near Nettle Ridge at the age of 82.31

Pension Odyssey Continues Following Rachel’s Death

You would think that this would be the end of the pension odyssey for the PETERS family, however, the story continues. I’ll let Paula Kelley Ward tell how the story finally ends.

It began on the day before Rachel Peters died. She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, Ellen and John Cates, in a house on the Taylor farm. For a time Rachel had been receiving her mail through the Post Office at Bassil, Virginia. The Post Mistress, Fannie L. Taylor, knew that Rachel had been ill with pneumonia for about ten days. Mrs. Taylor and her husband went to visit Rachel on Saturday, March 4, 1899. They brought Rachel’s pension vouchers for her to sign. Rachel could not write but she made her mark on the papers. “She was then in her right mind,” Mrs. Taylor said.

The next morning Abe and Lucy Pickrel visited John and Ellen Cates. Rachel told Lucy that she wanted her daughter, Ellen, to have her check. Lucy wrote a short statement which said: “Please let John Kates have my check when it comes, Rachel Peters” and Rachel made her mark on this paper. Later that same day, at sundown, Rachel passed away.

Eleven days later John and Ellen Cates went to the Bassil Post Office, gave Mrs. Taylor the statement that Rachel had signed, and Mrs. Taylor gave them the pension check. Lucy Pickrel met them at the Post Office and endorsed the check in Rachel’s name. John Cates later cashed the check in Rella, North Carolina.

When the Government learned that Mrs. Peters had died on March 5, but that her pension check had been cashed about two weeks later, it went into action. A special examiner for the Bureau of Pensions in Washington, D.C., E. H. Carver, was sent to Patrick County to investigate.

This was the Government that had prevented Jordan N. Peters from obtaining his rightful pension for ten years. It was the Government that had misfiled, lost, and was not able to read Jordan’s pension claims and testimony, the Government that had been responsible for Jordan’s widow having to walk all over the mountains to procure testimony in her behalf. Now this same Government was miraculously keeping an intact record of its so-called “Criminal Case.” The Bureau of Pensions had suddenly become efficient. Carver was sent to roam the Blue Ridge Mountains of Patrick County, Virginia to chase down witnesses in an attempt to indict Jordan’s son-in-law for forgery.

Carver obtained testimony from four people: Lucy Pickrel; Mrs. Fannie L. Taylor; Levi J. Lackey, the merchant from Rella, North Carolina who had cashed the check; and Joseph H. Brown, a blacksmith and general mechanic who had made Mrs. Peters’ coffin.

After taking signed statements under oath, the result of his interrogation of these people, Carver sent his report to the Bureau of Pensions charging John Cates with forgery. He wrote that John Cates “had fleeced everyone whom he had any dealings with,” but there was no evidence of this. John Cates had received $36.00 when he cashed the pension check, and $8.00 of that amount had been used to pay for Mrs. Peters’ funeral expenses. Carver claimed that the balance “was used on riotous living.” There was no proof of this allegation, either. Indeed, one wonders just how much “riotous living” could be bought with $28.00 in Patrick County, Virginia in 1899. It is a stretch of the imagination to conceive of Patrick County residents indulging in Carver’s idea of “riotous living,” whatever that was.

Shortly after the check was cashed, John and Ellen Cates moved to Winston, North Carolina. Carver naturally viewed this as an act of fleeing to avoid prosecution. One witness testified, however, that John Cates “got dissatisfied here. I do not suppose that he went there on account of the draft.”

Four months later the Federal Government brought its case before the Grand Jury in Danville, Virginia. For background, it also provided the Grand Jury with Jordan N. Peters’ pension records and the records of Jordan’s widow. Did the Grand Jury observe Jordan’s ten-year struggle to get his pension? Did it note that Rachel Peters had supplied an unusual amount of evidence to prove her marriage? The deliberations of the Grand Jury are not contained in Jordan’s pension file. All that is known is the Government’s attempt at indictment, which failed. The Grand Jury’s decision was “Not a true bill.” John Cates was not indicted.

The Government pursued the case, bringing it before a second Grand Jury at Lynchburg, Virginia. Again, the Grand Jury refused to indict John Cates for forgery. Was he guilty? It is true that he had cashed the pension check, but two of the four witnesses who had given their sworn statements to Carver had provided conclusive evidence that John Cates had not forged the check. Lucy Pickrel admitted that she herself had endorsed the check in Rachel Peters’ name.

Twice defeated, the Government decided to close its case because “it was futile and unnecessarily expensive.” That was an understatement since it must have cost the Government considerably more than $36.00, the amount of the pension check, to investigate the case and take it before two Grand Juries.

A final insult to Jordan’s service was found in his pension file on a slip of paper dated June 5, 1919. Twenty years after Rachel Peters had died, the Government added: “Rachel, widow of Jordan N. Peters…Papers found in Claim of Lucy A. Loveland, widow of Samuel W. Loveland…”

The War of 1812 Pension Application Files

Rachel and Jordan’s stories could not have been written without the help of the War of 1812 pension file that Paul Kelley Ward obtained in 1977 from the National Archives and Records Administration. Genealogists, historians, teachers, patriotic societies, and history buffs will soon have easier access to these wonderful records. The War of 1812 Pension Application Files are being digitized, indexed, and placed online as they are in grave danger of deterioration. As of today, 17% of the documents can be accessed FREE at Fold3. I would not be surprised if by the time the project is finished Jordan’s papers may have a few more pages than when Paula received her copy in 1977.

This Post Was Updated on 19 June 2022Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” index and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1121), citing original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina., Forsyth, 1942, February, Certificate of Death 153, Nannie Ellen Cates (accessed 20 June 2014). 
  2. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, images 45 and 46 of 880, 1813 David Profit and Elisha Rakes bond for the marriage of David Profit and Sarah Cockram. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99ZG-84FM?i=45&cat=765574 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  3. Ibid., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, images 43 and 44 of 880, 1813 Austin Prophet and Elisha Rakes bond for the marriage of Austin Prophet and Patsey Rakes. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-84KZ?i=43&cat=765574 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  4. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll 68, FHL Film 0181428, image 608, Virginia, Franklin County, page 315 (stamped), line 13, Betsey Prophet (accessed 7 February 2020). 
  5. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734/), citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_136, image: 177, Virginia, Franklin County, page 159 (stamped), line 22, Austin Proffit (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  6. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Nara Roll M19_192, FHL Film: 0029671, Virginia, Franklin County, page 86 (double-page spread), line 16, Austin Proffitt (accessed 7 February 2020). 
  7. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), a digital copy of a photocopy of the original letter received per email dated 8 June 2014 from Paula Kelley Ward, page 4 of the letter with dates of birth for the children of Jordan N Peters, including the date of death of his second wife, “…and the one dyed without being named was born July the 1st 1841 and dyed the same day and its mother died the 8th of July 1841.” 
  8. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). Conflicting dates of marriage were found in the pension file. On page 2, a cover sheet, the year of marriage was 1843. Jordan N. Peters states that he married on 8 December 1844 (page 18) and 8 December 1840 (page24). He married after the death of his 2nd wife in 1841 and before the birth of his daughter Sarah in November 1842 therefore I have assumed the marriage took place on 8 December 1841. 
  9. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Crook Township, Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), page 4 of the letter with dates of birth for the children of Jordan N Peters. 
  10. Ibid. 
  11. Ibid., The letter from her half-brother James wrote to her half-brother Zachariah listed her birth date as 13 June 1853. Her grave marker has 31 January 1855 as her date of birth. 
  12. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (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 https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 71, Raleigh County Register of Births, page 10 (double-page spread), line 44, 6 Dec 1856, Milla S. Peters, citing Hughes Creek, Raleigh County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00071.jpg : accessed 23 June 2014). 
  13. Discrepancy concerning her date of birth. She was three months old at the time of the 1860 census (b. abt. March 1860). In 1933 when she applied for a widow’s pension she noted that she was 75 on March 25, 1933 (b. 25 March 1858). On her death record, her grandson Earl E. Cundiff gave 22 March 1852 as her date of birth. The census being the most reliable and closest to the actual event, it has been assumed that her date of birth was 25 March 1860. 
  14. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975,” Forsyth, 1942, February, Certificate of Death 153, Nannie Ellen Cates (accessed 20 June 2014). Note: She is listed as born on 20 July 1870 in Floyd County, Virginia. The year of birth is an error. She was 6 years old on the 1870 census and 15 years old on the 1880 census, therefore her date of birth has been estimated at 20 July 1864. 
  15. “Registers of births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1915; index to births, marriages, deaths, 1853-1898,” browse-only, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia., Film 31523 (Items 2-3) DGS 7578970, Register of marriages, nos. 1-2 1853-1915, image 144 of 608, line 6, 21 Jan 1859, David Peters and Sarah Peters, parents of groom Willis and Rachel, parents of bride Jordan and Ruth, married by Michael Howery. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-VXZ2?i=143 : accessed 18 June 2022) Note: An error was made on the marriage record. The names of the mothers of the bride and groom were switched. 
  16. John D. Chapla, 42nd Virginia Infantry: The Virginia Regimental History Series, 3rd edition (1983), published by H.E. Howard, pg. 118, “Peters, Joseph W.: Pvt., Co. B. Enlisted 8 March 1862 Floyd Court House, Floyd Co., age 21. Hospitalized Harrisonburg by 4/18/22 (sic, typo in the book, probably supposed to be 18 April 1862) when died unspecified cause.” 
  17. United States. Adjutant General’s Office, “Index to compiled service records of Confederate soldiers who served in organizations from the state of Virginia,” index and images, FamilySearch, NARA Series M382 (62 rolls), citing The National Archives, Washington, D.C., Film 881437, DGS 8920385, M382 Roll 43, Index Pau – Ph, image 3315 of 14230, John W. Peters, 1861-1865. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QHV-13PK-L7F1?i=3314&cat=281165 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  18. Ibid., image 3324 of 14230, Moses Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QHV-13PK-L76P?i=3323&cat=281165 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  19. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (revised copy dated August 2000), page 104, family Rflec, Gordon Washington Roop, family tradition shared by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994). Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) on a book on the ROOP family in the early 1990s. In the summer of 1994, she was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later. Everette took over the task of finishing the book which he titled My Mother Was A Rupe. He gave me an updated copy in 2002. “Milla and the young daughter died in a house fire in 1891.” 
  20. Floyd County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Floyd County Courthouse in Floyd, Virginia., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 162 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1869, line 48. Moses Peters and E. A. Truslow. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K99T-6?i=161&cat=363663 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  21. Ibid., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 173 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1873, line 26, Wm Beverly and Amanda Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K99Y-G?i=172 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  22. Patrick County (Virginia). Clerk of the County Court, “Marriage registers, 1791-1923 ; index to births, marriages, deaths 1853-1912” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Patrick County Courthouse in Stuart, Virginia., Film 33351, DGS 7579037, Register of marriages, no. 3, 1853-1912, image 242 of 457, Patrick County Register of Marriages 1874, line 17, 8 Nov 1874, E Y Masses and L K Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-RLMK?i=241 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  23. Floyd County, Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925,” Film 31345 (Items 1-3), DGS 7578964, image 186 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1877, line 85, 3 Nov 1877, Edward Clark and Callie Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K9S3-H?i=185 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  24. Ibid., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 193 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1879-1880, line 137, 1 Jan 1880, Gordon Washington Roop and Milla Susan Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-K9M8-L?i=192 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Film 31345 (Items 3), DGS 7578964, image 203 of 606, Floyd County Register of Marriages 1881, line 82. 10 Oct 1881, Thomas Price and Mary E. Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-K99T-X?i=202 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  26. Tazewell County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage registers, 1800-1920 ; index to marriages, 1800-1939” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Tazewell County Courthouse in Tazewell, Virginia., Film 34214 (Items 5), DGS 4284960, Register of marriages, no. 3, 1853-1920, Tazewell County Register of Marriages 1894, page 110, line 57, 30 Apr 1894, Peter Rotolo and Emma Price. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6LC9-VXV?i=532&cat=473283 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  27. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970, FHL microfilm 800736, image 328, Mercer County Marriage Register, page 155 (stamped), line 1, 4 June 1902, B J Tilly and Emma Rotolo. (http://images.wvculture.org/800736/00328.jpg : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  28. Patrick County, Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1791-1923; index to births, marriages, deaths 1853-1912,” Film 33351, DGS 7579037, Register of marriages, no. 3, 1853-1912, image 276 of 457, Patrick County Register of Marriages 1882, line 3, 28 Dec 1882, John Cates and N.E. Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-RLSD?i=275 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  29. “War of 1812 Pension Files” service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, image 2, pension file cover form 1501 with the dates of death of the soldier and his widow. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  30. Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story,” p. 24-29, Wherever We Wander, compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce; cover designed by Charles Randolph Bruce. All stories in this book are copyrighted, 2005, by their authors and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author(s), except for brief quotes in reviews or for publicity purposes. Note: Paula shared a revised version of “Jordan’s Story” in 2012 in a PDF. Excerpts are included here with her permission. 
  31. “War of 1812 Pension Files” service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, image 2, pension file cover form 1501 with the dates of death of the soldier and his widow. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 

52 Ancestors: #24 Jordan N. PETERS 1796-1890 – War of 1812 Pensioner

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

#24 Jordan N. PETERS 1796-1890 – War of 1812 Pensioner

Update (21 June 2014): A correction has been made to the name of this ancestor. Jordan N. PETERS’ supposed middle name, “Nichols,” has never been proven. His records only include the middle initial “N.” The middle name “Nichols” has been removed/changed to the middle initial in this blogpost.

My 3rd great-grandfather Jordan N. PETERS was born in Amherst County, Virginia, on 10 October 1796 to Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah LIVELY.1 Zach and Kesiah were married nearly two years when Jordan was born.2,3 Following his birth, the PETERS family continued to grow and moved to Franklin County, Virginia, sometime before the 1810 census.4 By 1810 Jordan, 14 years old, had 7 brothers and sisters. Four more would be born by the end of the War of 1812.

1810peterscensus
1810 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin

Of the dozen children born to Jordan’s parents, the names are not known for two girls and two boys, however, they are documented in the pre-1850 census statistics. Jordan’s known siblings were Mary, William, Betsy, Lucy, Willis, Joseph, and Susannah.

War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 18 February 1815)

In 1977 Paula Kelley Ward obtained Jordan’s complete War of 1812 file from the National Archives and Records Administration. She transcribed and typed all the documents in the file. The complete transcription and the full story contained in the records came to nearly 50 typewritten pages. With information gleaned from his War of 1812 records, Paula wrote “Jordan’s Story.”5

In the years I’ve been doing genealogy, I learned that it is very important to share with other researchers. We can’t do everything on our own. A different perspective often helps push past the problems we have in our research. Paula, my 4C1R and 4C, has kindly allowed me to use the images of documents she found. Excerpts from “Jordan’s Story” are included here to allow Jordan to tell his story, through Paula, in his own voice.

Jordan said he enlisted in 1814 “to keep my father from being drafted.” He was about 17 years old then, six feet tall, with black hair, black eyes, and a dark complexion. He gave his occupation as “farmer” when he volunteered at Franklin Court House under Captain William Jones…..During his first term of service, Jordan said he “worked in the trenches and mustered every day for two months and 22 days.” He then became ill with the “bloody flux” and at about the same time his shoulder was dislocated…..Jordan was granted a discharge…

1812jordan
Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files [https://archive.org/stream/indextowarof0074unit#page/n381/mode/2up : accessed 6 June 2014]
The second time he enlisted he was 18 years old and volunteered at Franklin Court House on February 6, 1815 in Captain Robert Hairston’s Company…. The Company had marched as far as Chester (or possibly Chesterfield), Virginia when word reached them that a Treaty of Peace had been ratified on February 16. “Peace was made, and we marched over the Bridge and were paid for our time,” he said. The Company was discharged at Richmond on February 19, 1815, and Jordan went home to Franklin County.

The Jordan and Polly Era (1817-1837)

MRIN07822 1817 Jordan Peters and Mary Troup permission to marry
1817 Permission slip. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward

Mary “Polly” TROUP was 18 years old when she married Jordan N. PETERS on 6 October 1817 in Franklin County, Virginia.6 Her parents Henry and Dorothy TROUP gave permission for their daughter Mary to marry Jordan PETERS.7 He was the first of the PETERS children to marry. His brother William married Polly’s sister Alice in December 1818.

In 1820 Jordan is first seen in the census as the head of household with his wife and young daughter.8 Interesting is that Jordan is enumerated after Austin PROFFITT, the uncle of the young lady he would later marry, have children with, and spend the rest of his life with.

1820peterscensus
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin [Ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2014]
By 1830 Jordan’s family had grown to include 5 boys and 3 girls. One of these girls may have died young. Could his daughter Jane who is said to have been born on 22 June 1831 actually have been born in 1830 and included in the count of the 1830 census?9

1830peterscensus
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Montgomery [Ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2014]
Jordan’s wife Mary “Polly” TROUP died on 5 January 1837 in Franklin County, Virginia.10 She died at the age of 37 after bringing ten children into the world. When she died, her oldest child Cynthia was 17 and her youngest William was just 1 year and 3 months.

  • Cynthia was born on 8 Oct 181910
  • Henry T. was born on 17 Mar 182110
  • Zachariah was born on 14 May 182210
  • Stephen was born on 13 Mar 182410
  • Mary was born on 6 Aug 182510
  • Jonathan was born on 23 Apr 182710
  • James was born on 25 Jan 182910
  • Jane was born on 22 Jun 183110
  • Martha Ann was born on 19 Jan 183310
  • William Edward was born on 2 Oct 183510

In a letter written to Zachariah PETERS on 2 July 1864, James PETERS wrote,Dier Brother I comply with your request and send you the register of our ages as furnished me by our father I send it in short hand and you can copy it.” The dates of birth seen above as well as the date of death of the children’s mother followed. I received a transcript of the letter in 2003 and wondered if all information was transcribed correctly. Genealogy research has been Paula’s life work since the age of 16. It was no surprise that she had a photocopy of the original letter that she shared with me. I found that the items I questioned in the transcription were errors. Lesson learned: Do not rely on transcriptions – always verify with an image of the original when available.

Jordan’s Siblings and Parents

Let’s back up here a bit. While Mary and Jordan’s family was growing, his siblings were  marrying in Franklin County and starting their own families:

  • William PETERS married Alice “Alla” TROUP on 12 December 181811
  • Mary PETERS married Samuel SMITH on 18 December 182312
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” PETERS married Jesse EDWARDS on 17 June 182613
  • Lucy PETERS married Joseph JARRELL on 4 October 182714
  • Willis PETERS married Ruth SMITH on 21 March 182915
  • Joseph PETERS married Martha “Patsy” SMITH on 1 September 183016
  • Susan PETERS married Andrew REEL on 16 October 183917

At the time of this writing, a marriage bond index was used. The FamilySearch films are now available (2021-2022) and were checked to verify the above dates.11,12,13,14,15,16,17

Their parents most likely saw most of them marry except for their youngest Susannah. It has been assumed that Kesiah LIVELY and Zachariah PETERS both died between 1830–1840 in Franklin County, Virginia. There is no record of their deaths. Neither was enumerated as a head of household in 1840. None of their “known” children had older individuals in their households in 1840.

Update (6 June 2022): Recently found records prove that Kesiah was living on 16 October 1839. To be discussed in a future post…

The Jordan and Sarah Era (1837-1841)

MRIN07823 1837 Sarah Cox permission to marry Jordan Peters
1837 Permission Slip. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Jordan wasted little time in marrying again. Mary TROUP died in January and seven months later on 15 August 1837, he married Sarah COX.18 Her mother Peninah COX gave permission for Sarah to marry Jordan on 9 August 1837.19 We don’t know how old Sarah was but she immediately became the stepmother of ten children. Three months later Jordan’s oldest child Cynthia married Sarah’s brother Moses COX on 26 November 1837.20 Both marriages took place in Franklin County.

MRIN07823 1837 Jordan Peters and Sarah Cox marriage
1837 Marriage Bond. Courtesy of Paula Kelley Ward.

Sarah’s first child, Peninah, born on 14 November 1839, was named after her mother, Peninah WALDEN, widow of Francis COX.21

In 1840 Jordan was enumerated with his second wife, their newborn daughter, and nine of his children from his first marriage.22

1840peterscensus
1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin [Ancestry.com : accessed 9 June 2014]
Jordan and Sarah’s second child was born on 1 July 1841 and died the same day without being given a name.23 Sarah died about a week later on 8 July 1841.24

Jordan now had eleven children, all presumably still living at home except for Cynthia who married in 1837. Zachariah would marry in 1846, Henry in 1847, and Stephen and possibly Jane in 1848. The rest of his children from his first marriage were married by 1855.

The Jordan and Rachel Era (1841-1890)

On 8 December 1841, just five months after Sarah’s death, Jordan, age 45, married a third time to my 3rd great-grandmother Rachel PROFFITT, age 24.25 They married in Franklin County. In the next 23 years, she gave him 9 more children while the family moved back and forth between Franklin County, Raleigh County, and Floyd County. This is well documented in the War of 1812 papers, births of children, and census.

  • Sarah “Sallie” PETERS (1842-1899) was born on 2 November 1842
  • Joseph W. PETERS (1844-1862) was born on 12 May 1844
  • Moses Samuel PETERS (1846-1915) was born on 25 January 1846
  • Keziah Lucy PETERS (1847-1934) born abt. 1847
  • Amanda A “Mandy” PETERS (1850-1895) was born on 2 October 1850
  • Caroline “Callie” PETERS (1855-1930) was born on 31 January 1855
  • Milla Susan PETERS (1856-1891) was born on 6 December 1856
  • Mary Elizabeth F. “Emma” PETERS (1860-1944) was born on 22 March 1860
  • Nancy Ellen “Nannie” PETERS (1864-1942) was born in July 1864
1850peterscensus
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Raleigh > District 59
1850censuscoxpeters
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Raleigh > District 59

In 1850 we see Jordan living next door to several COX families in Raleigh County which would later be part of West Virginia. Daniel COX and his family are next door to his mother Peninah and three siblings. Jordan’s daughter Cynthia and her husband Moses COX are in the next household followed by Jordan and his family.26

By 1860 the Peters family was once again in Franklin County.27

1860peterscensus
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin > S.W. District

For reasons unknown today, Jordan did not declare his first term of service when he testified in 1855 to claim the bounty land due him. He received a Bounty Land Warrant for 160 acres in 1856. In later years when he provided sworn statements to the Government in an attempt to prove his first term of service, the records could not be found. In addition, he had received two discharges which would have proven his service but unfortunately these papers were burned along with everything else he owned in a fire which destroyed his house in February of 1865.

The statements made by Jordan and Rachel Peters concerning the fire could be interpreted today as suggesting that the house was burned deliberately. “The year of the Surrender we got our house and Family Record Bible of Ages and Marriage and Deaths all burnt up with everything else we had,” said Rachel. When the Civil War began, it must have been a sad event to those who had served in the War of 1812. Witness Jordan’s statement: “I loved the Stars and the Stripes that was the old Flag I went under. When I saw them pull them down [the old flag] and raise the Rebel Flag, I could not hardly keep…from shedding tears. I told them they would get enough of it, so they did. When I lived in Floyd County, Virginia, I got my house burnt up and all my papers.”

Jordan and Rachel were in Floyd County with their five youngest daughters for the 1870 census.28

1870peterscensus
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Jacksonville

Congress approved the Act to provide a pension for service in the War of 1812 on 14 February 1871.29 Jordan, 74 years old, submitted his first pension claim.

In 1874, after three years of testimony and correspondence, the Government notified Jordan that his claim was rejected on the grounds that “evidence of 60 days service” was not proven.

Following the rejection notice there is a four-year gap in Jordan’s file, indicating that the Government may have misfiled or lost the records during those years. Then on February 23, 1878 at the age of 81, Jordan submitted another pension claim. Seven years had passed since he had first declared his service for a pension in 1871.

The Pension Office seems to have processed this claim hurriedly. In July of 1878 he was granted a pension of $8.00 per month. Then a Government examiner reviewed the claim and recommended that “this case should be rejected and certificate cancelled.” In October of that year Jordan’s name was dropped from the pension rolls and payment of pension was suspended because of “insufficient service.”

With persistence Jordan once again declared his service of two terms. Throughout 1879 and 1880 the Government offices inspected the muster rolls again. Several months passed before the Auditor reported to the Pension Office: “There are no rolls of Capt. Mackhenry, Mackhaney, McHoney or McHaney’s Company of Virginia Militia. Nor are there any rolls of Capt. Jack or John Wade’s Company of Virginia Militia on file in this office.”

While Jordan was fighting for his pension his children from his third marriage were growing and old enough to marry. Several of his children are seen marrying at his residence in Floyd County. One of these was my great-great-grandmother Milla Susan PETERS who married Gordon Washington ROOP (1862-1930) on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia.30

1880peterscensus
1880 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge

By 1880 only Jordan’s two youngest daughters were still living at home.31 In two years they also would be married.

It was not until April of 1881 that someone was kind enough to listen carefully as Jordan told his story. That person was Mr. C. M. Stigleman. He interviewed Jordan and wrote down Jordan’s words on the letterhead of the Floyd County Superintendent of Public Schools. Jordan was 84 years old by this time and Mr. Stigleman remarked that “his memory is not good.” Even so, Jordan recalled the names of soldiers who had served with him in Captain William McHaney’s Company in Norfolk……

Mr. Stigleman seems to have been solely responsible for providing the information that at long last resulted in a pension. For ten years Jordan had steadfastly pursued his pension and finally in 1881 the Government restored his payments of $8.00 per month. In addition, he received the accrued pension from the time in 1878 when his name had been dropped from the rolls.

Jordan died of old age on October 14, 1890 near Nettle Ridge in Patrick County, Virginia. He was 94 years old. This is not the end of the story.

Jordan’s Story – page 24
Jordan’s Story – page 25
Jordan’s Story – page 26
Jordan’s Story – page 27
Jordan’s Story – page 28
Jordan’s Story – page 29

Update on links (7 June 2022): The links above are from snapshot captures by the Wayback Machine, an initiative of the Internet Archive. The original links to “Jordan’s Story” have been broken since Ancestry temporarily took RootsWeb offline on 23 December 2017 due to a security breach.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Jordan N. PETERS
Parents: Zachariah PETERS and Kesiah “Keziah” LIVELY
Spouses: 1. Mary TROUP, 2. Sarah COX, and 3. Rachel PROFFITT(*)
Whereabouts: Virginia and West Virginia
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd great-grandfather

    1. Jordan N. PETERS
    2. Milla Susan PETERS
    3. Walter Farmer ROOP
    4. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
    5. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
    6. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

This Post Was Updated on 13 June 2022: Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, images 42 and 43 of 218, affidavit of T. G. Tatum, dated 18 April 1891, with information Jordan N. Peters requested him to write down before his death as his house was burnt up and all papers lost. This includes his date of birth, two previous marriages, deaths of his previous wives, his pension certificate number, and his date and place of death. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937438 and https://www.fold3.com/image/642937439 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  2. “Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 30273, DGS 7578824, image 382 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 97, entry 9, 1794 November 18, Zacherias Peters and Keziah Lively, each of Amherst Parish, security and witness Austin Woody. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NC7R?i=381&cat=680855 : accessed 7 June 2022). 
  3. Ibid., image 738 of 786, Amherst County Register of Marriages, page 453, Ezekiel Campbell marriage returns for the year 1794, entry 8, Zachariah Peters and Keziah Lively. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-N8GX?i=737&cat=680855 : accessed 7 June 2022). 
  4. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll 68, FHL Film 0181428, image 43, Virginia, Amherst County, page 492, line 1, Zachariah Peters (accessed 16 November 2014). 
  5. Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story,” p. 24-29, Wherever We Wander, compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce; cover designed by Charles Randolph Bruce. All stories in this book are copyrighted, 2005, by their authors and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author(s), except for brief quotes in reviews or for publicity purposes. Note: Paula shared a revised version of “Jordan’s Story” in 2012 in a PDF. 
  6. Franklin County (Virginia). County Clerk, “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 638 to 641 of 880, 1817 Jordan N Peters and Jacob Troup bond for the marriage of Jordan Peters and Mary Troup (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9ZG-87MT?cat=765574 : accessed 7 June 2022). 
  7. Ibid., Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 641 of 880, 1817 Jacob and Dorothy Troup’s permission for daughter Mary to marry Jordan Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9ZG-8Q57?i=640&cat=765574 : accessed 7 June 2022). 
  8. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734/), citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_136, image: 177, Virginia, Franklin County, page 159 (stamped), line 21, Jordan N Peters (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  9. 1830 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry  (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8058/), citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Nara Roll M19_198, FHL Film: 0029677, Virginia, Montgomery County, Blacksburg, page 87 (double-page spread), line 1, Jordan Peters (accessed 10 Feb 2007). 
  10. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), a digital copy of a photocopy of the original letter received per email dated 8 June 2014 from Paula Kelley Ward, page 4 of the letter with dates of birth for the children of Jordan N Peters, including the dates of death of his first two wives. 
  11. “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” (Franklin County, Virginia), Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 818 to 821 of 880, 1818 William Peters and Jacob Troup bond for the marriage of William Peters and Alla Troup and Henry Troup and his wife Dorothy’s permission for their daughter Alla to marry William Peters.  (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99ZG-84X2?i=817&cat=765574 : accessed 7 June 2022). 
  12. Ibid., Film 1977993, DGS 7490232, Marriage bonds 1823-1827, images 42+43 of 855, 1823 Samuel Smith and William Peters bond for marriage of Samuel Smith and Mary Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-D91X?i=42&cat=765574 : accessed 7 June 2022). 
  13. Ibid., Film 1977996, DGS 7490235, Marriage bonds 1835-1838, images 548-549 of 784, 1826 Jesse Edwards and Zachariah Peters bond for the marriage of Jesse Edwards and Betsy Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-D37H?i=548&cat=765574 : accessed 12 June 2022). 
  14. Ibid. Film 31523 (Item 1), DGS 7578970, Marriage bonds register 1786-1853 (Gives husband’s name, wife’s name, date of bond, name of surety, name of minister), image 82 of 608, No. 2167, Jarrell Joseph and Peters Lucy 4 Oct 1827 Peters Zachariah security. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-VXYJ?i=81 : accessed 12 June 2022). 
  15. Ibid., Film 1977994, DGS 7490233, Marriage bonds 1828-1831, images 407-410 of 873, 1829 Willis Peters and John Powers bond for the marriage of Willis Peters and Ruth Smith and Gideon Smyth’s permission for his daughter Ruth to marry Willis Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-YW7?i=406&cat=765574 : accessed 12 June 2022). 
  16. Ibid., Film 1977994, DGS 7490233, Marriage bonds 1828-1831, images 630-633 of 873, 1830 Joseph Peters and Samuel Grimmett bond for the marriage of Joseph Peters and Patsy Smith and the Gideon Smith’s permission for his daughter Patsy to marry Joseph Peters. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-T6FC?i=629&cat=765574 : accessed 13 June 2022). 
  17. Ibid., Film 1977997, DGS 7490236, Marriage bonds 1838-1841, images 210-213 of 838, 1839 Andrew Reel and William Hixson bond for the marriage of Andrew Reel and Susan Peters and Kisiah Peters’ permission for her daughter Susan to marry Andrew Reel. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9ZG-HFP6?i=209&cat=765574 : accessed 13 June 2022). 
  18. Ibid., Film 1977996, DGS 7490235, Marriage bonds 1835-1838, images 526-527 of 784, 1837 marriage bond of Jordan N Peters and Sarah Cox. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9ZG-HQTW?i=526&cat=765574 : accessed 8 June 2022). 
  19. Ibid., Film 1977996, DGS 7490235, Marriage bonds 1835-1838, images 528-529 of 784, 1837 permission slip for bride. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-H779?i=528&cat=765574 : accessed 8 June 2022). 
  20. Ibid., Film 1977996, DGS 7490235, Marriage bonds 1835-1838, images 444-445 of 784, 1837 Moses Cox and Cynthia Peters bond. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-H7VD?i=444&cat=765574 : accessed 13 June 2022). 
  21. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), “Peninah Peters was born Nov the 14th 1839.” 
  22. 1840 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8057/), citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, NARA Roll: M704_559, FHL Film: 0029686, Virginia, Franklin County, page 307 (double-page spread), line 16, Jordon Peaters (sic, Jordan Peters) (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  23. Letter written by James Peters to his brother Zachariah Peters, (Boone County, West Virginia, 4 July 1864, 4 pages), “…and the one dyed without being named was born July the 1st 1841 and dyed the same day.” 
  24. Ibid., “…and its mother died the 8th of July 1841.” 
  25. Conflicting dates of marriage were found in the pension file. On page 2, a cover sheet, the year of marriage was 1843. Jordan N. Peters states that he married on 8 December 1844 (page 18) and 8 December 1840 (page24). He married after the death of his 2nd wife in 1841 and before the birth of his daughter Sarah in November 1842 therefore I have assumed the marriage took place on 8 December 1841. 
  26. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 972, Virginia, Raleigh County, District 59, Page: 10B, lines 29-37, household 135-135, Jordan Peters (accessed 17 May 2021). 
  27. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1346; Family History Library Film: 805346, Virginia, Franklin County, South Western District, page 35, lines 17-25, household 234-231, Jordan N. Peters(accessed 29 October 2013). 
  28. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1646, Virginia, Floyd County, Jacksonville, page 29, sheet 57A, household 213-201, lines 3-9, Jordan Peters (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  29. “U.S., War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, 1812-1815,” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1133/), citing original data: War of 1812 Pension Applications. Washington D.C.: National Archives. NARA Microfilm Publication M313, 102 rolls. Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group Number 15. Information about the collection in the description on Ancestry was taken from the Descriptive Pamphlet to Index to War of 1812 Pension Application Files, Microfilm Publication M313.(accessed 12 June 2022). 
  30. Barbara Reininger, compiler and website owner of “Families of Floyd County, Virginia,” Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, transcribed from images of microfilm records obtained by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925,” film 31345 items 1-3, DGS 7578964, microfilm of original records at the Floyd County Courthouse, FCVA1879_0137, Register: 3. Page: 61, Gordon Washington Roop m. Milla Susan Peters 01-01-1880 at Jordon Peters’, Floyd Co., VA by William L. Simmons. (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1879/FCVA18790137.jpg : accessed 12 June 2022). 
  31. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1365, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, enumeration district 25, page 5, sheet 264A, household 38-38, lines 1-4, Jordan Peters (accessed 13 August 2007). 

52 Ancestors: #23 Emaline LESTER abt. 1836-1877

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

#23 Emaline LESTER abt. 1836-1877

My great-great-great-grandmother Emaline LESTER was the firstborn child of Jacob LESTER (1812-1842) and Cynthia SUMNER (1815-1880) who married 4 September 1834 in Floyd County, Virginia.1 Following Emaline’s birth in about 1836 her brother George Washington LESTER was born in about 1837. Emaline and George, the only children of Jacob and Cynthia, were both born in Floyd County.

When Emaline was about 6 years her father Jacob died of unknown causes. There was a delay of two years in settling his estate during which time his widow Cynthia married John W. COX.2

In 1850, while her brother George was with his LESTER grandparents, Emaline was living with her step-father John W. COX, mother Cynthia, and half-sister Susan.3,4 On the 21st day of August 1850, the enumerator Joseph Howard, Ass’t Marshal, filled in North Carolina for the state of birth of John W. COX and then “do” (ditto) for the rest of the family. This is an error as Cynthia and her daughters were born in Virginia. The next household was that of Emaline’s grandfather Owen SUMNER. Everyone in his household was born in Virginia but they also had the “do” (ditto) indicating that they were born in North Carolina.

1850censuscoxlester
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > District 15> Page 431 > HH #758-758

George Washington LESTER, although younger than his sister Emaline was the first to marry on 23 March 1855 to Amanda “Manda” ROOP (1831-1894).5.6 A year later, on 10 March 1856, Emaline LESTER married Amanda’s brother Gordon H. ROOP.7 Both the couples were married in Floyd County, Virginia.

Emaline gave birth to her first child, a daughter, Dollie Ann Ellen ROOP (1857-1937) on 24 February 1857.8 A little over two years later she gave birth to a son John Thomas ROOP (1859-1902) on 6 March 1859.9 Emaline is seen with her husband Gordon and their two children in the 1860 census of Floyd County. She appears to have been better educated than her husband who was listed as not being able to read and write.10

1860censusroopgordon
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Page No. 101, Sheet No. 535 > HH #723-680 [Ancestry.com : accessed 30 May 2014]
Following the 1860 census, times were harder for the little family. Emaline was expecting her third child when her 22-year-old husband Gordon enlisted in Jacksonville as a private on 10 September 1861 in Company A, 54th Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, for one year.11

Emaline’s half-sister Susan had married earlier that year and was expecting her first child.12  Susan gave birth to a daughter on 7 November 1861.13 Baby Cynthia died of diphtheria when she was 17 days old.14 Her mother Susan died the next day of the same illness at the age of 16 years.15 One female relative less whom Emaline could rely on while her husband was gone.

While Gordon was fighting in Virginia and Kentucky, Emaline was going through her pregnancy and caring for her two young children, Dollie age 5 and John age 2. Without the help of her little sister, she may have relied on her sister-in-law Mary BLACKWELL, whose husband Floyd ROOP had also enlisted. Mary and Emaline’s families were living next door to each other in 1860. Her mother Cynthia also lived in Alum Ridge and likely helped out as did others who lived with her.16 Cynthia had in her household in 1870 her pregnant baby sister Jane age 23 and Jane’s one-year-old daughter Elizabeth as well as a 15-year-old girl Dolly Ann ELDRIDGE whose relationship is unknown.17

Emaline gave birth to my great-great-grandfather Gordon Washington ROOP on 6 May 1862.18,19,20 She now had three young children to care for while her husband was away serving in the Confederate Army.

On 1 November 1863 Emaline became a war widow at the age of 27 years. Her husband Gordon H. ROOP died in Flewellen Hospital in Cassville, Bartow County, Georgia.21 I have no idea how long it took for the news to reach her back in Floyd County, Virginia.

A little over five years after the death of her husband, Emaline ROOP, née LESTER, age 32, married Pleasant D. EPPERLY (1848-1920), age 21, on 8 February 1869 in Floyd County, Virginia. They were married by Owen Sumner.22

Being a young widow with little children, did she resign to live her life without a husband before she “robbed the cradle?” There were not many single men her age after the recent war. Nearly 620,000 men were killed in the Civil War, approximately the same amount of deaths as in all other American wars from the Revolutionary War to the Korean War combined. As the death rate was especially great in the Confederacy, the number of men of marriageable age may have been quite low in Floyd County.

A year later, Pleasant and Emaline were together with her ROOP children in the 1870 census in Alum Ridge in Floyd County.23 Once again Emaline appears to have been better educated than her husband Pleasant who could not read or write. Dollie, 13 at the time, could not read or write and John, 11, could not write. This makes me wonder if these children had to work to help support the family instead of attending school before their mother remarried. In later census years, Dollie and John are seen as being able to read and write.

1870epperleyroop1
1870 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 2 > HH#13-13
1870epperleyroop2
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Alum Ridge > Page 3 > HH#13-13

In the 1870s Emaline’s children began to marry. Dollie Ann Ellen ROOP married her 2nd cousin once removed Giles SUMNER (1855-1920) on 7 November 1873.24 John Thomas ROOP married Ardelia E. WAITMAN (1858- ) on 16 November 1876.25 Both marriages took place in Floyd County.

This left only my great-great-grandfather, Gordon, at home with his mother and step-father. A year later he became an orphan at the age of 15 when Emaline died on 3 December 1877 in Floyd County of consumption.26

Emaline was survived by her husband Pleasant D. EPPERLY; her daughter Dollie SUMNER; her two sons, John T. ROOP and Gordon W. ROOP; her mother Cynthia COX; her brother George W. LESTER; a granddaughter Hattie SUMNER; a nephew James Russell “John” LESTER; and a niece Cordelia Ann LESTER.

Her widower Pleasant D. EPPERLY remarried nearly 11 months later on 29 October 1878 and fathered four children with his second wife.27,28

This Post Was Updated on 6 June 2022: Floyd County birth, marriage, and death registers were checked on Ancestry. These collections were not available online when this post was originally written. At that time the extensive work of Barbara Reininger on the families of Floyd County had been the main source used. Missing source citations were added and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Rena Worthen & Barbara Reininger (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” index and images, part of the Floyd County, Virginia, The USGenWeb Project online https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/floyd.htm, citing the images of Floyd Co., VA marriages downloaded by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia Microform and indexed by Barbara Reininger. FCVA1834_LesterSumnerBond. 1834 Jacob Lester and Sintha Sumner bond. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/1_Marriages%20of%20Floyd%20County.htm : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  2. Marguerite Tise, comp., The Lester Family of Floyd and Montgomery County Virginia (copyright 1996 Marguerite Tise, P.O. Box 343, Floyd, VA 24091-0343), pg. 20. 
  3. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_943, Virginia, Floyd County, District 15, Sheet 446B, household 958-958, lines 9-12, John Lester (accessed 30 October 2014). 
  4. Ibid, Roll: M432_943, Virginia, Floyd County, District 15, Sheet 431B, household 758-758, lines 4-7, John W. Cox (accessed 20 June 2013). 
  5. Rena Worthen & Barbara Reininger (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” 1855 George W. Lester and Amanda Roop marriage. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1855/FCVA1855LesterRoopMar%20Light.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  6. Ibid., 1855 George W. Lester consent from his mother Synthy Cox. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1855/FCVA1855LesterCoxConsent.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  7. Ibid., 1856 Gordon Roop and Emeline Lester marriage. (http://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1856/FCVA1856RoopLester.jpg : accessed 2 March 2020). 
  8. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (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 https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1983330, image 883, West Virginia Standard Certificate of Death 18364, Mrs. Dollie Sumner, 14 December 1937, citing Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia. Date of birth 24 February 1857. (http://images.wvculture.org/1983330/0000883.gif : accessed 16 January 2007). 
  9. Ibid., West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 598425, image 298, West Virginia, Raleigh County Register of Deaths, page 81, entry 56, Jno F Roop (sic), age 46 y 6 m 5 d, 11 Sep 1902, citing Beckley, Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598425/00298.jpg : accessed 7 March 2022). Age at death: 46y 6m 5d, calculates to date of birth: 6 March 1856. This is off by 3 years. 
  10. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1345, Family History Library Film: 805345, Virginia, Floyd County, page 101, sheet 535 (handwritten), lines 33-36, household 723-680, Gordon Roop (accessed 26 February 2011). 
  11. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Fifty-fourth Infantry R Roop, Gorden Page 2. (https://www.fold3.com/document/12913746/roop-gorden-page-2-civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia: accessed 12 February 2014). 
  12. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/62154/), citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Floyd County Register of Marriages 1861, page 49, line 1, Marshal E F Moore and Susan L Cox (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  13. “Virginia, U.S., Birth Registers, 1853-1911,” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/418338:62153), citing Virginia, Birth Registers, 1853–1911 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Floyd County Register of Births 1861, page 61, line 5, 7 November 1861, Cintha Moore, white, female, alive, father E F Moore, farmer, mother Susan Moran (sic), informant father (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  14. “Virginia, U.S., Death Registers, 1853-1911, ” (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/discoveryui-content/view/250856:62152), citing original data: Virginia, Death Registers, 1853–1911 from the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Floyd County Register of Death 1861, page 20, line 24, Susan Moore, female, white, age 16, died 25 November 1861 Floyd County, Virginia, of diphtheria, consort of Elijah Moore, informant E. Moore, husband (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  15. Ibid., Floyd County Register of Death 1861, page 20, line 25, Cinthia Moore, white, female, age 21 days (sic, 17), died 24 Nov 1861 in Floyd County, Virginia, of diphtheria, parents: E & Susan Moore (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  16. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Roll: M653_1345, FHL Film: 805345, Virginia, Floyd County, page 48, sheet 482, household 345-324, lines 16-17, Cyntha Cox (accessed 4 November 2014). The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. 
  17. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1646, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, page 8, sheet 4B, household 55-53, lines 16-19, Cynthia Cox (accessed 18 October 2014). 
  18. Find A Grave, database and images, (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/209078601/gordon-w-roop : accessed 28 February 2022), memorial page for Gordon W. Roop (6 May 1862–31 Jan 1931), Find a Grave Memorial ID 209078601, citing Rich Creek Cemetery, Jodie, Fayette County, West Virginia, USA; maintained by Jennifer Nottingham (contributor 49369720). 
  19. Documentation to prove the date of birth is not accessible to me at this time. The FamilySearch collection, “Floyd County, Virginia Births, 1853-73” is only available at a family history library. May 1862 was seen on the 1900 census. 
  20. 1900 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7602/), citing Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T623, 1854 rolls, FHL microfilm: 1241761, West Virginia, Kanawha County, Cabin Creek, enumeration district 41, sheet 2B, lines 87-93, household 33-33, Gordon W. Roop (accessed 2 February 2022). 
  21. “Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Virginia,” database with images, Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/publication/42/civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia), citing The National Archives, NARA microfilm publication M324, Fifty-fourth Regiment Virginia Infantry, Gordon Roop, 1 Nov 1863 in Flewellen Hospital, Cassville, Georgia. (https://www.fold3.com/document/12913782/roop-gorden-page-4-civil-war-service-records-cmsr-confederate-virginia: accessed February 2014). Note: His name appears on a Register of Officers and Soldiers of the Army of the Confederate States who were killed in battle, or who died of wounds or disease. 
  22. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Floyd County Marriage Register 1869, page 88, line 12, 8 February 1869, P. D. Epperly and Emaline Roop (accessed 5 June 2022). 
  23. 1870 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7163/), citing Ninth Census of the United States, 1870 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls, Roll: M593_1646, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, sheet 1B, page 2, lines 39-40, household 13-13, Pleasant Epperly (accessed 18 October 2014). 
  24. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Floyd County Register of Marriages 1873, page 92, line 86, 7 November 1873, Giles Sumner and Dolly E. Roop (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  25. Ibid., Floyd County Register of Marriages 1876, page 119, line 84, 11 November 1876, John T. Roop and Ardelia E. Waitman (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  26. “Virginia, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Death Records, 1853-1912”, database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia), Film 2056980, DGS 4225427 > Floyd County, 1853-1896> image 153 of 673 > Register of Deaths 1877, line 7. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DRMQ-65R?cc=3940896 : accessed 14 March 2022). 
  27. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” Floyd County Register of Marriages 1878, page 113, line 86, Pleasant Epperly and Rowena Jane Basham (accessed 6 June 2022). 
  28. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Roll T623_1718, FHL microfilm: 1241718, Virginia, Montgomery County, Christiansburg, enumeration district 69, sheet 11B, lines 64-69, household 203-204, Pleasant D. Epperley (accessed 4 June 2022). 

52 Ancestors: #13 Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 1856-1891

“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 my 13th contribution to Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

#13 Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 1856-1891

Do you remember when you were young and one of your parents wanted to scold you and ran through the names of all your siblings before they got to yours? Image what it was like for Milla’s father, “Cynthia, Henry, Zachariah, Stephen, Mary, Jonathan, James, Jane, Martha, William, Peninah, Sallie, Joseph, Moses, Kesiah, Mandy, Callie, Elizabeth, Nannie, Milla!!!

Her siblings:
Child 1: Cynthia Peters (1819-?) born 18 October 1819 Franklin
Child 2: Henry T. Peters (1821-1890) born 17 March 1821 Franklin
Child 3: Zachariah Peters (1822-1899) born 14 May 1822 Franklin
Child 4: Stephen Peters (1824-1869) born 13 March 1824 Franklin
Child 5: Mary Peters (1825-1856) born 6 August 1825 Franklin
Child 6: Jonathan Peters (1827-1910) born 23 April 1827 Franklin
Child 7: James Peters (1829-1880) born 25 January 1829 Franklin
Child 8: Jane Peters (1831-1867) born 23 June 1831 Franklin
Child 9: Martha Ann Peters (1832-1902) born 19 January 1832 Franklin
Child 10: William Edward Peters (1834-1863) born 2 October 1834 Franklin
Child 11: Peninah Peters (1839-1859) born 14 November 1839 Franklin
Child 12: ___ Peters (1841-1841) born 1 July 1841, died 1 July 1841 Franklin
Child 13: Sarah “Sallie” Peters (1842-1899) born 2 November 1842 Franklin
Child 14: Joseph W. Peters (1844-1862) born 12 May 1844 Franklin
Child 15: Moses Samuel Peters (1846-1915) born 25 January 1846 Franklin
Child 16: Keziah Lucy Peters (1847-1934) born abt 1847 Floyd
Child 17: Amanda Angeline “Mandy” Peters (1850-1895) born 2 October 1850 Floyd
Child 18: Caroline “Callie” Peters (1853-1930) born 13 June 1853 Floyd
Child 19: Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS (1856-1891) born 6 December 1856 Raleigh
Child 20: Elizabeth F. “Emma” Peters (1860-1944) born 22 March 1860 Floyd
Child 21: Nancy Ellen “Nannie” Peters (1864-1942) born July 1864 Franklin

The 19th Child of Twenty-one

Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS was born 6 December 1856 in Raleigh County, (West) Virginia to Jordan N. PETERS (1796-1890) and Rachel PROFFITT (1817-1899).1 She was the 19th child of her 60-year-old father Jordan2 and the 7th child of her thirty-something 39-year-old mother Rachel.

Millie has been incorrectly seen as Willa or Willie in online GEDCOM files. Her 1856 birth record clearly shows Milla S. On the 1870 census I compared names beginning with M and W on the same page and her name was written as Millie Susan. B. P. Elliott, the enumerator of the 1870 census, was also the clerk who filled out the 1880 Marriage License for Milla. The handwriting is the same and it is an M and not a W. Millie is seen on the 1880 census. Her son George’s death certificate has her name listed as Millie Peters. Son Walter’s 1971 death certificate has Mary Peters listed, an obvious error. The persons who gave the information on her younger sons Charles and James’ death certificates did not know the name of the mother. I rest my case.

Family on the Move

Milla’s parents seem to have been constantly on the move. They were married in Franklin County, Virginia, in 18413 and by 18504 were living in Raleigh County, formed on 23 January 1850 from portions of Fayette County, then a part of Virginia, now West Virginia. Their daughters Mandy and Callie were born in Floyd County in October 18505 and June 18536 per their marriage records. Jordan was in Raleigh County in June 1855 when he testified to claim the bounty land due him for his service in the War of 1812.7 In September 1856 he was in Floyd County when he received a Bounty Land Warrant for 160 acres.8 By December 1856 he was back in Raleigh when his wife Rachel gave birth to Milla. After her birth, they moved again and were in Franklin County in 1860.9

1860censuspeters
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Franklin > Long Branch > Page 35 HH #234-231

Milla Lives Through a House Fire

In February of 1865, a major event took place in the life of 8-year-old Milla Susan PETERS. According to statements made by her parents, their house “got burnt up” in Floyd County and all of her father’s papers, including the family bible, were lost.10

1870censuspeters
1870 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Floyd > Jacksonville > Page 29 Sheet 57A HH#213-201

Was the place of residence in 1860, 1865, and 1870 the same? A portion of Franklin County was added to Floyd County in 1870. I wonder if the changes in the county line between Floyd and Franklin may make it appear that the family was moving around when they were actually in the same place.

Milla Marries a Younger Man

Milla Susan PETERS married Gordon Washington ROOP on 1 January 1880 in Floyd County, Virginia, at her father Jordan Peters’ residence.11 The bride and groom, or whoever gave the information, were not honest about their ages. Milla’s age was given as 20 but she had turned 23 the month before and Gordon’s age was given as 21 although he was 17 and would not turn 18 until four months later.

Photocopy of Marriage License obtained by Louise Roop Anderson Akers on 24 Feb 2001 from the records of the Circuit Court, County of Floyd, Virginia. Louise sent the original certified copy to me in April 2001.

Milla and Gordon were first seen together in the 1880 census. They lived on Alum Ridge in Floyd County near the Montgomery County line.12

1880roop
1880 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Floyd > Alum Ridge > ED 25 Page 4 Sheet 264B > HH#59-59

 Milla and her husband Gordon didn’t wait long to start their family. She gave birth to five children, four sons and a daughter, in ten years:

Ch 1: George Washington ROOP (1880-1950) born 19 September 1880in Floyd County, Virginia.13
Ch 2: Walter Farmer ROOP (1883-1971) born 16 April 1883 in Montgomery County, Virginia.14
Ch 3: Charles Turner ROOP (1885-1966) born 15 June 1885 in Montgomery County, Virginia. The father’s residence at the time was Raleigh County, West Virginia, and the birth was recorded there.15
Ch 4: James H. “Old Man Jim” ROOP (1887-1962) born 30 May 1887 at Snuffer’s Branch, Clear Creek, Raleigh County, West Virginia.16
Ch 5: _____ ROOP (1890-1891) born in June 1890 in Kanawha County, West Virginia. She died in a house fire in 1891.17

After the birth of her only daughter in 1890, Milla’s father Jordan N. PETERS died on 14 October 1890 in Nettle Ridge, Patrick County, Virginia.18 His wife, Milla’s mother, Rachel PROFFITT died there on 5 March 1899.19

Second House Fire is Fatal

Milla Susan ROOP, née PETERS, died at the age of 34 with her only daughter, an unnamed baby, in a house fire in 1891.20 Family tradition is vague and does not tell us enough of the story. I cannot imagine the horror of living through one house fire and then perishing in another twenty-six years later. How was the fire started? Was it during the day or at night? Who else was in the house? When the fire broke out, where were Milla’s sons, aged between 10 and 3 years, and her husband? If it happened during the day, had the boys been playing outside? Did she save her sons from a fiery death? Was she overcome by smoke and flames? Was she suffocated or burned to death?

Milla’s grief-stricken husband Gordon Washington ROOP placed his sons George, Walter, Charles, and James with two Snuffer families until he was able to care for them.

This Post Was Updated on 27 March 2022: Missing source citations were added and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 2014-2022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (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 https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 71, Raleigh County Register of Births, page 10, line 44, 6 Dec 1856, Milla S. Peters, citing Hughes Creek, Raleigh County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00071.jpg : accessed 23 June 2014). 
  2. Jordan N. PETERS married first Mary “Polly” TROUP on 6 October 1817 in Franklin County. They had 10 children. Polly died on 5 January 1837 in Franklin County. Jordan married second Sarah COX (?-1841) on 15 August 1837 in Franklin County. Sarah died on 8 July 1841 in Franklin County a week after giving birth to her second child. Jordan married third Rachel PROFFITT on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County. They had 9 children. 
  3. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), roll: RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  4. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: 972, Virginia, Raleigh County, District 59, Page: 10B, lines 29-37, household 135-135, Jordan Peters (accessed 17 May 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 31345, Reference ID: P42 E26. William Beverly, male, single, age 28, born 1845 in Amherst Co., VA, father Mat., mother Elizabeth, married 20 Feb 1873 in Montgomery, Virginia, spouse Amanda Peters, female, single, age 21, born 1852 in Floyd Co., VA, father Jordon, mother Rachael (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 February 2016). 
  6. Barbara Reininger, compiler and website owner of “Families of Floyd County, Virginia”, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/BarbR_FCVAResearch/zz_marriages.htm), transcribed from images of microfilm records obtained by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia, “Marriage registers, 1843-1925,” film 31345 items 1-3, DGS 7578964, microfilm of original records at the Floyd County Courthouse, FCVA1877_0085 Register: 3. Page: 54. “Edward Clark m. Callie Peters 11-03-1877 at the bride’s residence, Floyd Co., VA by John K. Harris. He 22 yo single w/m farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Baxter & Margaret Clark. She 22 yo single w/f, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Jordan & Rachel Peters.” 
  7. War of 1812 Pension File of Jordan N. Peters, image 30 of 208. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  8. Paula Kelley Ward, “Jordan’s Story” revised version dated 2/2/2012, © 2012. 
  9. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1346; Family History Library Film: 805346, Virginia, Franklin County, South Western District, page 35, lines 17-25, household 234-231, Jordan N. Peters (accessed 29 October 2013). 
  10. In 1977 Paula Kelley Ward obtained Jordan’s complete War of 1812 file from the National Archives and Records Administration. From the information gleaned from the file, she wrote “Jordan’s Story” included on pgs. 24-29 of Whenever We Wander, compiled, designed, and edited by Carolyn Hale Bruce. 
  11. Barbara Reininger, Floyd Co., Virginia Marriages, FCVA1879_0137, register 3, page 61, “Gordon Washington Roop m. Milla Susan Peters 01-01-1880 at Jordon Peters’, Floyd Co., VA by William L. Simmons. He 21 yo single w/m farmer, b. & living in Floyd Co., VA, s/o Gordon & Emeline Roop. She 20 yo single w/f, b. Raleigh Co., VA & living in Floyd Co., VA, d/o Jordon N. & Rachel Peters.” 
  12. 1880 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/6742/), citing Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls, Roll: 1365, Virginia, Floyd County, Alum Ridge, enumeration district 25, sheet 264B, line 44-45, household 59-59, Gordon Roop (accessed 1 February 2022). 
  13. “Birth records (Virginia), 1853-1896; indexes, 1853-1899; delayed birth indexes, 1912-1950,” (index and images), FamilySearch, Virginia. Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 2046936, DGS 4284999, image 540 of 641, Virginia, Floyd County, Register of Births, 1880, line 120, George W. Rupe, 19 Sep 1880. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YR-DCZS?i=539 : accessed 31 January 2022). 
  14. Ibid., Film 2046951, DGS 4254461, Montgomery County births, 1853-1896, Montgomery County Register of Births 1883, page 177 (stamped), image 364 of 595, line 152, 16 April 1883, Walter F. Roop, Montgomery County, Gordon W. Roop, farmer, Milly S. Roop. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YG-5WT9-9?mode=g&i=363 : accessed 26 January 2022). 
  15. WVCulture.org, West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 232, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Register of Births 1885, line 239, 15 June 1885, Charles T. Roop, citing Montgomery County, Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00232.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  16. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 598415, image 249, West Virginia, Raleigh County, Register of Births 1887, line 230, 30 May 1887, James Roop, citing Raleigh County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/598415/00249.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  17. Ibid., West Virginia Births, 1853-1930, FHL microfilm 521730, image 408, West Virginia, Kanawha County, Register of Births 1890, line 46, June 1890, unnamed female Roop, citing Cabin Creek, Kanawha County, West Virginia. (http://images.wvculture.org/521730/00408.jpg : accessed 1 February 2022). 
  18. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), widow Rachel Proffitt, image 2, pension file cover form 1501 with the dates of death of the soldier and his widow, (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  19. Ibid. 
  20. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (revised copy dated August 2000), page 104, family Rflec, Gordon Washington Roop, a family tradition shared by Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994). “Milla and the young daughter died in a house fire in 1891.”
    Concerning this source: Linda Pearl Dickey Roop (1943-1994) collaborated with Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) on a family book in the early 1990s. In the summer of 1994 she was diagnosed with cancer and died a month later. Everette took over the task of finishing the book which he titled My Mother Was A Rupe. He gave me an updated copy in 2002.