Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Harvey and Hariett

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off to the Will Book for another will

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

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

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

New Relationships

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

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

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

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

The Census and Slave Schedules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  1. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9N-LP?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YB%3A179687901%2C179707301 : accessed 19 March 2019), Mason > Will book, v. 001 1834-1880 > image 36 of 206; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  2. 1840 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Sixth Census of the United States, 1840 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029689; NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Mason; image 44+41 of 69, Sheet 232A+B, Line 9, John Harrison. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 March 2019). 
  3. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration,Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_959; Image 297; Virginia, Mason, District 38, image 47 of 165, Sheet No. 385A, Lines 28-30, HH #333-334, John W. Clark household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  4. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, Roll: M653_1361; FHL Film: 805361; Virginia, Mason County, District 2, image 25 of 68; Page No. 46, Lines 21-30, HH #345-316, Wm Claunch household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2019). 
  5. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at http://www.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970. Marriage of John Harrison and Frances C. Aldakers (sic, spelling per index) (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175291&Type=Marriage : accessed 20 March 2019) 
  6. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-HN9F-9Z?cc=1909099&wc=Q8B7-1YL%3A179687901%2C179729801 : 22 June 2016), Mason > Will book, v. 001A 1833-1875 > image 26 of 165; citing Jackson County, County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  7. WVCulture.org, (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_mcdetail.aspx?Id=12175454 : accessed 24 March 2019) and http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12175454&Type=Marriage : accessed 24 March 2019) 
  8. WVCulture.org, 1865 Death Record of Polly A. Craig (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_dcdetail.aspx?Id=4787281 : accessed 26 March 2019) and (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=4787281&Type=Death : accessed 26 March 2019) 
  9. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 272A; Image: 213 
  10. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 8 of 8 
  11. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 46, page 3 of 8 
  12. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 46, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M432_971; Page: 280B; Image: 230 
  13. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 4, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 893; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  14. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1860; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, Virginia; Roll: M653_1373; Page: 794; Family History Library Film: 805373 
  15. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 3 of 4, right line 32 
  16. Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, Virginia, Putnam, District 4, page 2 of 4, left, line 14 
  17. “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9392-H19H-5?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MNG%3A179687101%2C179700701 : 21 June 2016), Putnam > Will book, v. 001 1847-1937 > image 45 of 204; citing Putnam County Clerk, West Virginia. 
  18. Ancestry.com. 1870 U.S. Federal Census, Year: 1870; Census Place: Buffalo, Putnam, West Virginia; Roll: M593_1698; Page: 248A; Family History Library Film: 553197 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Edmond

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

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

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

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

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

1841 Will of Elizabeth Clark of Mason County, Virginia

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

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

Edmond who shall be free at my decease

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discrepancies and Questions

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

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

Bryan in the Mason County Census

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

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

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

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

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

Other Bryan Families in Mason

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slave Name Roll Project is 4 Years Old

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Gathering Records to Tell the Story

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

Seeking Documentation

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

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

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

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

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

Two Marriages

1862 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

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

1863 marriage entry courtesy of FamilySearch

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

Two Divorces

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

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

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

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

March term 1880

Alexander Clonch
     vs                                          In Chancery
Mary E. Clonch

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

1880 chancery order courtesy of FamilySearch

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

Importance of the Records

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

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

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

Genealogy Sketch

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

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

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


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

William CLONCH’s Estate – and It Gets More Complicated

After finding the land records I transcribed in my previous posts: The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia and The Estate of William Clonch (1807-1863) of Mason County, West Virginia – Part 2 I wanted to know when William CLONCH (1807-1863) bought the 148 acres tract and who the grantor had been.

Searching the Land Deed Index

In the land deed index for grantor and grantee, I could not find an entry for my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH even with different spellings of the name, i.e. CLAUNCH, CLOUNCH. Neither his father Dennis CLAUNCH nor his mother Nancy BEASLEY owned land per the deed books. Neither left a will conveying land to William and/or to of his siblings: Elizabeth, John, and Sarah.

► Was it possible William CLONCH did not legally own land when he made his last will and testament on 17 January 1863?1
► If he didn’t own land, how could he will his land to Mary DOSS and her DOSS children?
► How could his heirs later convey land as a group to three of the DOSS siblings, also known as CLONCH, in 1892 allowing it to remain in the family?

A Tract of Land Containing 148 Acres

Once I had the deeds concerning the heirs of William CLONCH transcribed and written up, I took a closer look at two deeds I found for my 2nd great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH, also known as Alexander DOSS. The first land deed was dated 27 June 1866, over three years after the death of William CLONCH. Alexander was the grantee of a tract of land containing 148 acres.2 In 1885 Alexander was the grantor and sold the same piece of land to Mary DOSS and all of her DOSS children named in the will of William CLONCH.3

William CLONCH lived with Mary DOSS from sometime before 1840 until his death in 1863. They were not married. Eight children were born between 1840 and 1855 during the years William and Mary were together. William left a last will and testament naming Mary DOSS and her seven living children as his heirs. These children later went by the CLONCH surname. DNA results show descendants of these children carry Clonch/Claunch and Doss DNA.

The 148 acres sold in 1885 had similar call lines as the three tracts of land which were sold in April 1892 by the heirs of William CLONCH.4 I had been able to plot two of the tracts but the third had a problem call and I could not plot it. I thought by plotting the three tracts I would be able to put the pieces together to form the original 148 acres.

Was it only a coincidence William’s and Alex’s lands contained the same amount of acreage?

The 1866 Land Deed

Reading and transcribing the land deeds of Alexander CLONCH brought to light some thought-provoking information. The grantor of the land sold in 1866 was a group of persons, children and their spouses of the deceased Richard GERNON, who were being represented by their attorney’s representatives through a power of attorney.

This deed made on the 27th day of June A.D. 1866 between John Jaques Richard Gernon and Claire Paule Anna Gernon his wife (born Davies) Joseph Edward Gernon and Catherine Tolsey Gernon his wife (born Toussat) Louis Loreal & Emilie Antoinette Loreal his wife late Reneufoe daughter of Jeane E. Reneufoe who was daughter of Richard Gernon deceased; Jean Louis Culon and Emilie Culon his wife late Gernon, daughter of the said Gernon (Richard) deceased by Edward Naret their attorney in fact who is substituted as such by Power of Attorney from John Keating & William V. Keating dated 27th April 1850 of the first part and Alexander Clonch of Mason County and State of West Virginia of the other part witnesseth: that in consideration of One hundred & eighty Eight dollars to him in hand paid the said Edward Naret attorney in fact as aforesaid doth grant unto the said Alexander Clonch The following tract of land Situate in the County of Mason and State of West Virginia being part of a large Survey Known as the Gernon Tract below the Great Kanawha bounded as follows: Beginning at a Small white oak corder to a Survey of 91 acres (Clarks) Thence with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash Tree on a South hill side. Thence leaving Beals S 63° E 120 poles to a Stake on a run bottom Dogwood and Hickory pointers. Thence N 34 1/2° E crossing the right hand fork of Bryans Run at 6 poles & the left hand fork of the same at 26 poles, 116 poles in all to a small white oak N 44° W 52 P to a white oak. Thence N 17° W 84 poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, Thence with his line S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak corner to Clarks 91 acres. Thence with a line of the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning containing One hundred & forty eight acres be the same more or less. To have & to hold The Said Tract of land to him The said Alexander Clonch his heirs & assigns forever & The said Grantors by their attorney in fact as aforesaid do covenant with the said Alexander Clonch that they will warrant generally the land & premises hereby conveyed.
Witness the following Signature & Seals
……………………………………..John Jaques Richard Gernon seal
……………………………………..Claire Paule Anna Gernon seal
……………………………………..Joseph Edward Gernon seal
……………………………………..Catherine Tolsey Gernon seal
……………………………………..Louis Loreal seal
……………………………………..Emilie Antoinette Loreial seal
……………………………………..Jean Lewis Culon seal
……………………………………..Emilie Culon seal
……………………………………..by Edward Naret Their attorney in fact

The State of West (sic, Virginia missing)
Putnam County ss Before me Allen J. Holstein a Justice of the Peace in & for the said County of Putnam appraisal

the within named John Jaques Richard Gernon and Clair Paule Ann Gernon his wife Joseph Edward Gernon and Catherine Tolsey Gernon his wife, Amelie Antoinett Loreal & Louis Loreal her husband, Emilie Culon & Jean Louis Culon her husband by Edward Naret their within named Attorney in fact & acknowledged the signing and Sealing of the within conveyance to be their voluntary act & Deed.
In witness Whereof I have signed my name and affixed my seal this 27th day of June A. D. 1866.
……………………………………..A. J. Holstein J.P. seal

West Virginia Mason County Recorders Office December 3rd 1866 The annexed Deed with U.S. Internal Revenue Stamp thereon for fifty cents was this day exhibited in said office and together with the Certificate thereon admitted to Record.
………………………………….Teste
……………………………………..James H. Holloway
………………………………………………..Recorder

The Gernon Tract

As seen in the above deed, the land was part of a larger survey known as the Gernon Tract. I checked the index again to see if others had been granted land from this tract.

The first mention of the Gernon Tract was found in a deed dated 1821. The deed is a history lesson in itself. It mentions acts of Congress which allowed direct taxes to be collected from landowners.

On 9 January 1815 Congress passed “an act to provide additional revenues for defraying the expenses of government and maintaining the public credit, by laying a direct tax upon the United States, and to provide for assessing and collecting the same.”5 On 5 March 1816, this was repealed by Congress reverting back to an act passed in 1813.6 Both of these acts are mentioned in the 1821 deed.

Taxes were due on the Gernon Tract and the whereabouts of the owner were unknown. In fact, the tax collector did not mention the name of the owner, Richard GERNON, in the 1821 deed. Under an act of Congress to lay and collect a direct tax (July 14, 1798), before the collector could sell the land for non-payment of tax, he was required to advertise a copy of the list of lands and the statement of the amount due for the tax along with the notification to pay in sixty days. The tax due on the Gernon property was advertised in the Richmond Enquirer. John L. MERTENS of Hanover County paid the tax and acquired the three tracts of land containing 4,375 acres, 1,500 acres, and 200 acres for a total of 6,075 acres.7

In 1823 MERTENS sold the land back to the owner who had been delinquent on his tax payments, Richard GERNON, formerly a U.S. citizen living in Philadelphia, now residing in Paris, France. Was GERNON’s non-residence in America the reason he did not pay his taxes?

As later deeds were consulted, I learned the tract was being reduced by surveys as pieces were sold, apparently, to the persons who had been living on and working the land. The original tract situated (per 1834 deed) in Mason County originally containing twenty one thousand five hundred Acres, Patented to Richard Smyth assignee of Henry Banks the Sixth day of December one thousand Seven hundred and Ninety four & conveyed by the said Patentee to the above named Richard Gernon, by deed dated 29 August 1795 Recorded in the clerks office of the General Court of Virginia at Richmond 16 Novr. 1795. 

The land deeds for the Gernon Tract are a genealogical find for those interested in the family of Richard GERNON and his wife Antoinette GAUSE whose name was mentioned in the 1834 deed.8 I was intrigued when I found his wife’s maiden name was GAUSE as, after separating from William CLONCH, his ex-wife Ann Eliza HILL married a man named Andrew J. GAUSE, later seen as GAUZE. It was one of her GAUZE descendants’ fault I’ve been writing about the land deeds since my post, I No Longer Need that Lookup, Folks!

Following the Land Records

As I perused each of the land records for Gernon land being sold, I found the descriptions of the land changing as the land was being divided up into lots. New proprietors of the adjoining land were mentioned. Also, lots adjoining the land would be described as land on which certain persons lived – not land owned by that person. Later the individuals living on the land were found buying the lot. For example, in 1861 John SHELINE bought a tract of land comprising 442 acres which had been surveyed in 1856 by John J. POLSEY:

Beginning at a small ash corner made for Wm Clonch on Beale’s line; Thence with Beals line S 5° E 83 poles to two black oaks on the west side of the hill, Thence S 35 1/2° W 24 poles to a white oak, Thence with the Gratz line S 50° E crossing the Road fork of Horselick Branch at 214 poles, 272 poles in all to a Stake & pointer corner to the Madden Survey, Thence with a line of the same N 61° E 168 poles to a poplar, Thence leaving the Madden Tract N 28° W 420 poles to a Stake Corner to Patterson, Thence with his line S 65° W 53 poles to a Stone Corner to Clounch, Thence with the lines run for Clounch S 17° E 84 poles to a white oak S 44° E 52 poles to a white oak, S 34 1/2° W 116 poles to a Stake and run Bottom, Thence N 63° W 120 poles to the beginning, containing 442 acres more or less.9

It would appear that William CLONCH was living on land which had been surveyed for him as late as 1856. At the time of his death, he was likely expecting to buy the land but the deeds had not been drawn up and recorded.

The 1885 Land Deed

In 1885 Alexander Clonch and his wife Tobitha deeded land to his mother Mary DOSS and ALL of her DOSS children, including himself. There is no mention in the following deed that Alexander CLONCH is the same person as Alexander DOSS but the deeds discussed in the previous posts show the sons of William CLONCH went by CLONCH and DOSS.

In the margin:
Delivered to C. W. Messick May 2nd ’85

This Deed made this 9th day of April 1885 between Alexander Clonch and Tobitha Clonch his wife of the County of Mason and State of West Virginia of the first part and Mary Doss, John Wm Doss, Alexander Doss, Lavinia N. Doss, Betsy Jane Doss, Thomas E. Doss, Joel Doss, and Charles H. Doss, of the second part. Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.°°) the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged Do grant unto the parties of the second part, all that certain tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the County of Mason and State of West Virginia and in the District of Clendenin bounded and described as follows, To wit: Beginning at a small white oak corner to a survey of 91 acres (Clark’s) Thence with Beal’s line S 5° E crossing Bryants fork at 71 poles, 124 poles to an ash tree on a south hill side, thence leaving Beal’s S 63° E 120 poles to a stake in a run bottom dogwood and hickory pointers, thence N 34 1/2° E crossing the right hand fork of Bryants run at 6 poles and the left hand fork of the same at 26 poles 116 poles in all to a small white oak N 44° W 52 poles to a white oak then N 17° W 84 poles to a stone in Patterson’s line, thence with his line, S 65° W 94 poles to a small white oak corner to Clark’s 91 acres, thence with a line of the same N 85° W 33 poles to the beginning containing One hundred and forty eight acres, be the same more or less, being the same tract or parcel of land conveyed to the said Alexander Clonch by John Jaques Richard Gernon, and others by deed dated the 27th day of June 1866, and duly of record in the Mason County Court Clerk’s Office in Deed Book No. 20 folio 256 & 7. To have and to hold to the said Mary Doss for and during her natural life and at her death to the said John W. Doss, Alexander Doss, Lavinia N. Doss, Betsy Jane Doss, Thomas E. Doss, Joel Doss and Charles H. Doss and their heirs

and assigns forever, and the said parties of the first part do hereby covenant with the parties of the second part, that they will warrant generally the property hereby conveyed.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
Test John R. Dabucy
……………………………………..Alexander Clonch Seal
……………………………………..Tobitha Clonch x her mark Seal

State of West Virginia Mason County. ss:
I D. S. Van Matre a Notary Public in and for the County and State aforesaid do certify that Alexander Clonch whose name is signed to the writing above bearing date of the 9th day of April 1885 had this day acknowledged the same before me in my said County. Given under my hand this 9th day of April 1885.
……………………………………..D. S. Van Matre
…………………………………………………..Notary Public

State of West Virginia, Mason County ss:
I John R. Dabucy a Justice of the Peace in and for the County and State aforesaid, do certify that Tobitha Clonch the wife of Alexander Clonch whose names are signed to the writing above bearing date on the 9th day of April 1885 personally appeared before me in the County aforesaid and being examined by me privily and apart from her husband and having the said writing fully explained to her she the said Tabitha Clonch acknowledged the said writing to be her act and declared that she had willingly executed the same and does not wish to retract it. Given under my hand this 13th day of April 1885.
……………………………………..John R. Dabucy J.P.

West Virginia, Mason County Court Clerk’s Office April 14th 1885. This Deed was this day presented in my office and thereupon, together with the certificates thereto annexed, is admitted to Record.
Teste:
……………………………………..J P R B Smith Clerk

What I Learned While Doing the Research

I think it’s possible my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH was living on the land for several decades before he died in 1863 and he intended to pass it on to his DOSS children and their mother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS. In 1860 when the census was enumerated his Value of Estate Owned was $444 for Value of Real Estate and $120 for Value of Personal Estate. Why would he have real estate valued when he did not legally own it? I am not aware of the practices of the time. Did William CLONCH have the land he was living on and working surveyed? And did he consider it his land after the survey? I checked the index to surveys and his name was not listed.

While searching the deeds index I found my great-great-grandfather Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) obtained land in 1866 and sold the same in 1885. It was interesting to find Alex owned land in Mason County, West Virginia, from 1866 until 1885. The sale of the land fit into the time period when he was known to be moving to Fayette County as well as applying for his Civil War pension.

From the above, would you also say the land Alexander CLONCH bought in 1866 and sold to his mother and siblings in 1885 was the same piece of land William CLONCH lived on during his later years and willed to Mary DOSS and her children? Or do I have to do more work and plot all of the lots from the Gernon tract and fit the pieces of the land puzzle together to prove the three lots sold by the heirs in 1892 were the land Alexander bought in 1866 and sold in 1885?

Genealogy Sketch

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

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

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


  1.  “West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971” (database with images), FamilySearch (digital images of originals housed at local county courthouse in West Virginia), FHL Film #567420, Item 2; DGS 4715359; Mason Will book, v. 01A 1833-1875, image 104 of 165, page 166-167. Last will and testament of William Clonch. (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18256-40179-14?cc=1909099&wc=10916722 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  2. “Mason County (West Virginia), County Clerk, Deed books, 1803-1901” (database with images), FamilySearch (Microfilm of original records at the Mason County Courthouse), Film 567257, DGS 8292937, Deed book, v. 20-21 1866-1868, image 163 of 694, folio 256+257. 1866 Land Deed Gernon to Clonch. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRQ-DSRL-9?i=162&cat=76718 : accessed 12 January 2019). 
  3. Ibid., Film 567360, DGS 8292992, Deed book, v. 38-39 1883-1885, image 563 of 706, Folio 359 and 360. 1885 Land Sale Clonch to Doss. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSR7-CWGT-B?i=562&cat=76718 : accessed 4 February 2019). 
  4. See the previous post here
  5. The Library of Congress > Law Library > Research & Reports > Legal Reports > Statutes at Large > 13th Congress > pdf > page 164. ( http://loc.gov/law//help/statutes-at-large/13th-congress/c13.pdf : accessed  5 February 2019). 
  6. Ibid., 1th Congress > pdf > page 255. (https://www.loc.gov/law/help/statutes-at-large/14th-congress/c14.pdf : accessed 5 February 2019). 
  7. Mason County Deed Books. Film 567248, DGS 7896952, Deed book, v. D-E 1815-1823, image 469+470 of 568, Folio 362 thru 364. 1821 Land Deed between William D. Taylor and John L. Mertens.   (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS4F-N9S7-4?i=468&cat=76718 : accessed 6 February 2019) 
  8.  Ibid., Film 567250, DGS 8292932, Deed book, v. H, 9 1830-1837, image 439 of 628, Folio 332 and 333. 1834 Land Deed Heirs of Gernon to Charles Beale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSRQ-D9PK-F?i=438&cat=76718 : accessed 5 February 2019) 
  9. Ibid., Film 567255, DGS 8285409, Deed book, v. 16-17 1852-1863, images 592-593 of 725, folio 381-383. 1861 Land Deed Gernon et al to John Sheline. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS51-236?i=591&cat=76718 : accessed 5 February 2019) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing the Names

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

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

The U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedule

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

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

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

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

Ancestry.com : accessed 27 Janaury 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

I No Longer Need that Lookup, Folks!

A little over a week ago a Facebook friend, the descendant of a half-sibling of my 2nd great-grandfather’s half-sister (let that sink in), shared a post I wrote in 2014.

52 Ancestors: #26 William Clonch abt. 1807-1863

Note: As of 13 January 2019, the 2014 post has been updated with sources and images. 

My 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH was a challenge to research. Ralph Hayes worked on the CLONCH families years before I did and posted his finding on the CLAUNCH surname mailing list on Rootsweb as well as in other forums popular over 17 years ago. Most of the descendants of William’s father Dennis CLAUNCH use the CLONCH spelling. Dennis had brothers whose descendants go by CLAUNCH.

William CLONCH never married my 3rd great-grandmother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS. He left land to her and her children in his will in 1863. In 2011 after FamilySearch added the collection of West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971, I went in and found his will and transcribed it. It was only then that I actually saw the words he had written, naming her children with the DOSS surname.

In my 2014 post, the transcriptions were included for the will and three other records produced at the time the will was ordered to be recorded.

I wrote further in the post:

The land left to Mary E. DOSS and her children by William was sold by his heirs in 1892 to Louvenia PATTERSON, seen as Loving Ann DOSS in the will:

In Mason County deed book 53, page 202, dated 29 April 1892, John W. and wife Mary E. Clonch, Alexander and wife Bertha (sic, Tobitha), Charles and wife Mary, Thomas and wife Missouri, Joel and wife Betsy, heirs of William Clonch to Louvenia Patterson all of the Mason County, West Virginia, property in Clendenin District, Mason County, West Virginia. According to these records, William Clonch is the father of the Doss children. Note: I don’t have images of or a true transcript of this record. A look-up would be appreciated. 

When my Facebook friend shared the link to William’s post, one of her friends made a comment about the missing record. This lead me to take a new look at FamilySearch‘s catalog to see if land records for Mason County, West Virginia, might have been added since the last time I checked.

I No Longer Need that Lookup, Folks!

Last year while working on my Rewriting the Biography of James SIMS 1754-1845 series, I found tax records for the area he lived. And it seemed each time I went in to look for something another collection had the camera icon indicating the digital images were available. If the counties of Kanawha, Nicholas, and Fayette where the SIMS families lived were going online then wouldn’t the rest of the West Virginia counties also be updated?

I went to the catalog and searched for Mason County, West Virginia, and began looking at the list of records. I opened up Land and Property and found Deed books, 1803-1901. These are browse-only records and include the grantor and grantee indexes as well as the deed books for 1803 to 1901.

I went straight for the record I’d requested over four years ago. It was there in Deed Book 53, on pages 202 through 204 – but I won’t be sharing an image or transcription in this post.

The deed books have an index at the front and I noticed there was another record for a CLONCH individual, my Alexander CLONCH, the son of the above mentioned William. When I read the record I knew I had to take a closer look at the grantor and grantee indexes. I found, in all, five deeds dealing with the land left to the children of William CLONCH. Transcriptions will be shared in a separate post next week.

Folks, pass the word around to check the FamilySearch catalog. They may have collections of interest to you with the camera icon instead of the camera with a key (indicating restrictions) or the microfilm icon.

Clonch cousins, sorry for keeping you hanging. If you can’t wait until next week, go to the catalog, and do the searches I did. Happy huntings!

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

Lëtz Research – When A Record Doesn’t Want to be Found

Why Lëtz Research? Luxembourg is known as Lëtzebuerg by Luxembourgers (Lëtzebuerger) and this is about genealogy research in/for Luxembourg. So instead of Let’s Research…

Lëtz Research!

Genealogists who have Luxembourg ancestry are fortunate in that FamilySearch has the digital images online of civil records, church records, census records, and notarial records. Nearly all of these are image-only, i.e. have not been indexed and are browse-only.

Birth, marriage, and death records found in the civil records collection are the first and easiest to research. Although volunteers are working on them, only a little more than 100,000 of these records have been indexed. The birth and death records have four records per image while the marriage records have two records per image. There are 716,518 images. Let’s assume an average of three records per image = over two million records which need to be indexed.

There’s no need to wait until indexing is finished. Even if the collections have not been digitally indexed, there are internal indexes which can be used to find records. This is the case for most collections no matter where the location. For example, will books in U.S. counties usually have an index at the front or back of the book. Clerks did not have search engines back when…so they created a list of names so they wouldn’t have to page through registers.

Index for Year

For Luxembourg after the civil records were produced the town secretary made an alphabetical index at year’s end and included it in the registers (birth, marriage, and death) at the end of the year’s records. These are most helpful when you know the date and place of an event.

Tables Décennales

If a family lived in a town for a long period of time and had, let’s say, a dozen children there is an easier way to search for the births records.

To further simplify a search, the clerks also created lists at the end of a ten-year period called tables décennales (TD). They begin in 1803. Created in alphabetical order they are arranged in order: birth, marriage, and death for the periods 1803-1812, 1813-1822, 1823-1832, etc. to 1922 the last publicly available year. The lists include the name of the person as well as the date of the event. Marriages are in alphabetical order by the surname of the groom only.

Like the yearly index which was done at the end of the year, the ten-year index was created at the end of the ten-year period. One peculiarity of both the one-year and the ten-year indexes is that they were usually used the French version of the person’s first name. Peter’s birth record may have been created for Peter while the index has the name as Pierre (Katharina=Catherine). Most names are similar in German and French, however, there are some names which can cause a bit of head scratching. For example, Stephan (German) and Etienne (French) or Wilhelm/Guillaume. This is further complicated by the old handwriting they used.

As with all indexing, there is the possibility of a mix-up in names or dates in the ten-year lists. Some may not be in perfect alphabetical order. When I’m searching for a name in the tables décennales, I always take this into consideration.

When an Index Isn’t Good Enough

Recently while working on my post, Retraction of Allegations Made Against Maisy Vesque (1913-1969), another peculiarity of the tables décennales was brought to my attention. Something we should all be aware of with any index (handwritten or digital) we are working with – an omission! We may all know this but do we always remember this may be the case?

Tables décennales for Rumelange in 1903-1912

I had checked the tables décennales for the birth of Maisy VESQUE around 1913 in Rumelange as this was the town her father lived and worked in when he married her mother in 1910. I checked 1903-1912 and 1913-1922 as I had only an estimated birth in 1913. Maisy, as I well knew, is a nickname so I was looking for any female child with the surname VESQUE. None were found. (see image above for 1903-1912)1

With A Little Help from a Friend

In my retraction post, I included a plea for help. My friend Linda K., who has come to my rescue several times, took the bait. She emailed me the date of birth and birth name. I immediately checked the TD (tables décennales) to see why I had missed it. It had been omitted from the list (see image above) but was found on the 1912 birth records’ index (below).

1912 Index of births in Rumelange

The record for Maria Margaretha VESQUE was easily found with the record number 107 found in the index.2 The birth record3 also included the date and place of death of the child as well as the record number in the margin which would make it easy to locate the death record – if it did not fall under the 100-year law for civil records.

1912 Birth Record No. 107 for Maria Margaretha Vesque

A closer look at the document made me wonder if the clerk might have NOT completely filled out the record at the time the father came to report the birth and sign the record. Information appears to have been pencilled in and written over.

The lesson I learned was to check the yearly indexes even when a record is not indexed in the ten-year index as an omission is possible. The title of this post: When a record doesn’t want to be found could also read When we don’t do a thorough search to find a record. Sometimes we need to try harder to find them or admit we need help and ask for it.

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


  1.  “Luxembourg, Registres d’état civil, 1796-1941,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L97V-9BCK?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZN1%3A130319501%2C130692102 : accessed 26 September 2018), Rumelange > Tables décennales 1883-1922 > image 109 of 220; Archives nationales de Luxembourg (National Archives), Luxembourg. 
  2. Ibid., (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-9YM9?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZNL%3A130319501%2C130499501 : accessed 26 June 2018), Rumelange > Naissances 1898-1912 > image 786 of 789; Archives nationales de Luxembourg (National Archives), Luxembourg. 
  3.  Ibid., (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-897V-956R?cc=1709358&wc=9RTB-ZNL%3A130319501%2C130499501 : accessed 26 June 2018), Rumelange > Naissances 1898-1912 > image 763 of 789; Archives nationales de Luxembourg (National Archives), Luxembourg. 

Rewriting the Biography: When Did James Sims Die?

Many of my West Virginia cousins and genealogy acquaintances know my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) of Nicholas County is one of my favorite ancestors to research. I worked with a group of descendants sixteen years ago and wrote a lengthy biography which is attached to hundreds of trees on Ancestry. It is now time to review the information I used in writing the biography and attempt to find more of the missing pieces.

One question which has not been settled is the year of death of James SIMS. The exact location of his grave in the Simms Memorial Church Cemetery in Swiss is in doubt as the original stone marker was displaced and lost many years ago. Two memorial plaques are in the cemetery.

James Sims, Sgt VA Militia, Revolutionary War, 1754-1838
Revolutionary Soldier, James Sims, 1754-1845

The marker with the year 1838 was secured from the Veterans Administration in 1979 by George R. Penick, Jr. Mr. Penick who compiled information on the descendants of James Sims spoke with some older family members who assumed James SIMS died in 1838. Mr. Penick did his research over 40 years ago and did not have the resources we have today. He likely did not consult the 1840 census as James SIMS age 80 thru 89 was enumerated with his wife, his youngest son George Washington Sims, and a younger male – perhaps a grandson who was helping on the farm.

I have not been able to find out who placed the marker with the 1845 year of death which is more likely as James was living in 1840.

In 1848 a bill of complaint was filed by attorney John Reynolds in the Circuit Supreme Court of Law and Chancery for Nicholas County with George H. Lee, Judge, seeking to have the court provide for the sale of the 125-acre farm near Beech Glen left by James SIMS when he died. The transcript names heirs who would have been living at the time and has also been referred to as a partition suit. The date of death of the deceased was given in the bill as 1836 which cannot be correct due to his being alive at the time of the 1840 census.

Although FamilySearch now has many records online for Nicholas County, I have yet to locate the original partition suit. The transcript was found by Willard E. Simms of Cozaddale, Ohio, in the DAR file of Virginia Bondurant Johnson and shared in a letter to John T. Simms, of Charleston, West Virginia, in 1947. Without a copy of the original record, I cannot be sure that the information in the transcript is correct.

When did James SIMS die?

FamilySearch now has many “new” browse-only record collections available for Nicholas County, West Virginia.

In the Order books, 1844-1928 I found four documents which mention James SIMS in the volumes for the years 1844-1871.

At a Court continued and held for the County of Nicholas on Wednesday the 13th day of November 1844 present William D. Cottle, Bernard Hendrick, John Mc Hamilton.

A power of attorney from James Sims to John McClung was presented in court and ordered to be recorded.1

This now places the death of James SIMS at after this date, 13 November 1844. Eight months later another record was recorded in the Order Book.

August Term 1845

At a Court held for the County of Nicholas at the Court house by the Justices thereof on Tuesday the 12th day of August 1845. present Bernard Hendrick, William Sims, James G. Neil, David Hanna, Jeremiah Odell & William D. Cottle Gent. Justices.2

James Sims Senr. is released from the payment of County & parish Levies in future.3

As we see here on 12 August 1845 James SIMS was still living. Was he exempted from paying the levies due to his age or infirmity? James was born in 1754 per his own declaration made in 1834 and would turn 91 years old on 8 October 1845.

The last two records found add a new date to the equation.

At a Court held for the County of Nicholas at the Court house by the Justices thereof on Tuesday the 10th day of March 1846 present John M. Hamilton, William D. Cottle, William Sims & James G. Neil Gent Justices & John McClung Gent Justice.4

On the motion of William Sims who made oath & together with Joshua Stephenson and Dryden Sims his securities entered into and acknowledged a bond in the penalty of Two hundred Dollars conditioned as the Law directs certificate is granted the said William Sims to obtain Letters of administration on the Estate of James Sims decd in due form.

On the motion of William Sims administrator of the Estate of James Sims Decd. George Hardway William Summers & John Morris are appointed appraisers of the personal Estate of the said decd. after being first duly sworn for that purpose and that they return the appraisment under their hands to the Court.5

Sometime between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 1846, James SIMS passed away. He did not leave a will and letters of administration and the appraisement of his estate were ordered.

His son William SIMS was one of the justices of the court. How long after his death would he have waited to start proceedings to have his father’s estate administered and appraised? Previously the court was held on 10 February 1846, 13 January 1846, and 12 November 1845? Could it be he died in 1846 and the year 1836 seen in the partition case was an error of ten years?

For now, I will list the death of James SIMS as between 12 August 1845 and 10 March 1846. Previously I had between 1840-1848 as these were the last census year he was found and the year the partition suit was filed. I am quite happy with the range I have been able to narrow down to.

The next question I have may not be as easily answered. If the estate of James SIMS was appraised6 then the appraisement would be found in the West Virginia Will Books collection at FamilySearch. Although I have not checked page by page, I found that at one point in the Nicholas County will book for the period there are records missing between July term in 1844 and 1865 with one will from the October term in 1857 serving as a placeholder between the 1844 and 1865 records. Are the records out of order? Where could the missing years be?

I asked this question in the Nicholas County WV Genealogy group on Facebook. One researcher has been to the Nicholas County courthouse several times to do research. She was told at least two wills books may be missing and was lead to believe they are unsure of what became of the books.

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


  1. Nicholas County (West Virginia), County Court, Order books, 1844-1928 (images), <i>FamilySearch</i>, (11 microfilm reels of original records at the Nicholas County courthouse, Sommersville, West Virginia), DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 3, image 37 of 840. 13 Nov 1844 Power of attorney from James Sims to John McClung,(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJ1R?i=36&cat=99534 : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  2.  Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 40, image 54 of 840. 12 August 1845 James Sims exempt from levies (page with date court was in session), (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJB1?i=53&cat=99534 : 7 February 2018). 
  3. Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 41, image 55 of 840. 1845 James Sims exempt from levies (left page, last entry), (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJB6?i=54&cat=99534 : accessed 7 February 2018). 
  4. Ibid., Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 65, DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, image 67 of 840. 10 March 1846 date court was in session, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY3?i=66&cat=99534 : accessed 7 February 2018). 
  5. Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 69, image 69 of 840. Letters of administration and appraisement order for estate of James Sims decd, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY6?i=68&cat=99534 : accessed 7 February 2018). 
  6. William Sims adm. of the Estate of James Sims decd. presented in Court an appraisment & Sale Bill of the Estate of the said Decd. which being seen and inspected by the Court is ordered to be Recorded.
    Ibid., DGS 7617649, Film 1639161, Vols. D,E,D 1844-1871, p 92, image 81 of 840. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9V1-FJY4?i=80&cat=99534 : accessed 7 February 2018) 

Slave Name Roll Project: RELEASING: Davie

Releasing the name of a man named Davie.

In 1837 John Sparr wrote his Last Will and Testament leaving his “Black man Davie” to his wife Mary. After the death of the wife of John Sparr, Davie was to have the liberty of choosing “his master”. 1

The Last Will and Testament of John Sparr Dcd
I John Sparr of the County of Fayette and State of Virginia Do make this my Last Will and Testament in Manner and form following that is to say
1st I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife Mary my Black Man Davie Togeather with one cow two head of sheep our feather bed bedstead and bedding p. & and During the Term of her natural life and at her decease To be Equally divided between my two daughters Elizabeth Koontz and Katharine Cart and the said black man Davie is to have liberty to choose his master at the Decease of my Wife and shall be valued by two disinterested men & His said master so chosen shall pay one half of such valuation to Elizabeth Koontz and the other half to Katharine Cart & if the person so chosen shall fail or refuse so t odo then the said Slave shall have liverty to choose untill he shall get one that that (sic) will Perform and the person so performing shall be the sole prorpietor of him the said Slave forever.
I also give and bequeath unto my wife fifteen Bushels Wheate Thirty bushels corn and all the Ruffness on the farm.
2nd I give and bequeath on Jacob Cart my son’s old mare.
3rd I desire that immediately after my Decease that all the remaining part of my estate of Every Description be sold and out of the money arising Thereform all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid after which payment I desire that the Remaining part of my Estate not theretofore disposed of be fivided among my children herein named As follows tow wit Samuel five Dollars George five Dollars Susan five Dollars Polly five Dollars then the remainder Whatever it maybe to be divided between my two Daughters Elizabeth Koontz & Katharine Cart giving Elizabeth Twenty dollars more than Katharine

And Lastly I do hereby Constitute and appoint my two sons in law Jacob Koontz and Jacob Cart Executors of This my Last will and Testament hereby revoking all Others or former Wills or Testaments by me heretofore made In Witness Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 24th day of November 1836.
John Sparr (his mark) Seal

Signed Sealed published and
Declared as and for the Last
Will and Testament of the said
John Sparr in the presents of
us who have hereunto set our
names as Witnesses in his presents

and at his request
W Carnafix
Henry Crist

Fayette County Court January Term 1837
The Last Will and Testament of John Sparr Deceased was presented in open court proven by the oaths of William Carnafix & Henry Crist the subscribing witnesses thereto and is ordered to be recorded.
Test
H Hill CFC (Clerk Fayette County)

In 1830 John Sparr and his son George were in Nicholas County. Fayette County would be formed in 1831. John Sparr and his wife were in their seventies and did not have a slave listed on the 1830 census. In 1840 Samuel Sparr, likely the son mentioned in the will, was found in Fayette County and had one male slave aged 55 to 99 years in his household. The sons-in-law, Jacob Koontz and Jacob Carte, did not have any slaves in 1840. None of the surnames seen here were found on the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules.

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-C9SW-F3?cc=1909099&wc=Q816-MG7%3A179689901%2C179689902 : 11 October 2017), Fayette > Will book, v. 001 1832-1866 > image 43 of 292; county courthouses, West Virginia.