Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 2)

The life of George W. DEMPSEY was discussed in my post, George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1).

A Brief Review

George W. DEMPSEY was born about 1831 in Amherst County, Virginia, and lived in Fayette County, Virginia (before the state of West Virginia was formed), from about 1855 when his father moved the family there until sometime after the 1870 census. George did not die on 16 November 1879 as many online family trees indicate. He was not found on the 1880 census as George W. DEMPSEY. His 13 years old daughter Polina was found in Amherst County, his oldest son Andrew remained in Fayette County, and his son Robert (found in later years) is unaccounted for in 1880. If he was still living, where was George in 1880?

Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950)

The mystery of George W. DEMPSEY’s disappearance was not a question I was looking into. I hadn’t thought to investigate the whereabouts of my 2nd great-granduncle until I discovered a group of DNA matches with an unusual surname in their trees that was similar to DEMPSEY.

Using my DNA tools, I found a group of matches associated with several clusters that point to my GOWING-CRISP family group AND/OR those branches further back. Landon S. GOWING and Sally CRISP were the parents of Clementine M. GOWING, mother of George W. DEMPSEY.

The matches have a common ancestor named Mollie Lee DEMPSTER (1880-1950). By comparing the ICW (in common with) matches and working out their trees, I was able to find 14 matches that descend from Mollie through seven of her children: 2 grandchildren, 7 great-grandchildren, 4 2xgreat-grandchildren, and 1 3xgreat-grandchild. [23 Feb 2021 Update: Number of matches and their relationship to Mollie adjusted after charting the matches.]

I built a documented tree for Mollie adding all records found on Ancestry as well as FamilySearch. A little over a week ago, I discovered an interesting article written in 1893.1 For the most part, it confirms much of the information I found and even gives a bit more insight into the man who was Mollie’s father.

A Little Waif – Mollie’s Story

“A Litte Waif” part 1 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

About fifteen years ago a man by the name of ___ Dempster, with his young wife, moved into the neighborhood of Rye Cove, Scott county, Va. Dempster was a man of perhaps forty, while his wife was several years younger. They were both handsome and intelligent, and Dempster possessed an education which placed him above the average. After a time a daughter was born in the newly established household, who was the joy and pride of her fond parents.

Mollie’s parents’ names were unknown when I searched the 1880 census for persons with the DEMPSTER surname. Only one couple was found in the southwestern part of Virginia.

1880 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Scott, Taylor, household of Wesley Demster with wife Mary J. (Ancestry.com)

In 1880 the possible parents of Mollie Lee DEMPSTER were living in Taylor District, Scott County, Virginia. Wesley DEMSTER (sic) doesn’t appear to have an occupation as the field indicates At home.  His wife Mary was keeping house. Both were born in Virginia as were their parents. Wesley was 50 years old, nearly a decade older than noted in the article. The columns for Cannot Read and Cannot Write are not marked and therefore both were literate confirming the statement in the article that Mr. DEMPSTER was an educated man.2

Mollie’s 1880 birth record was located by browsing the Virginia birth registers for Scott County, Virginia, on FamilySearch. She was born on 11 July 1880 – after the census was enumerated. The informant on the register of the county is listed as a friend named Wm P. GOOD. He was the head of the household listed just above the DEMPSTER couple on the 1880 census. The parents of Mollie L. were Wesley G. DEMPSTER and Mary J. DEMPSTER.3

“A Litte Waif” part 2 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

Near the Dempsters lived at that time Mr. W. W. Taylor, now of this place. About the time of the birth of the little girl to the Dempsters a girl baby was born to Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. The children grew up together, and there was quite an attachment formed between the two families.

Mrs. Dempster died when her child was about four years old. Soon a step-mother was brought in over the child. At the age of eight years her father died, and, in the meantime Mr. Taylor’s little girl had died.

Again, browsing the registers of Scott County for deaths, I found Mollie’s mother Mary J. died of consumption on 12 January 1883 when Mollie was 2 and a half years old. Wesley reported the death and gave the name of her mother as Virginia LARKEY. No father was named. Mary J. was 30 years 2 months and 13 days old on the day of her death placing her birth on 30 October 1852. Ditto marks were made in the field for the place of birth indicating she was born in Scott County.4 I was unable to trace her before the 1880 census.

Over a year and a half later, on 23 September 1884, Wesly DEMSTER (sic), widowed, age 50, born in Nelson County, Virginia, married Polly CAMBELL, age 35, born in North Carolina. The parents of the groom were Wilson and Mary; the father of the bride was Wyat CAMBELL.5

The death records of two of the TAYLOR children were located. On 10 September 1885 Emoline TAYLOR age 5 years 1 month 10 days died of Diptheria.6 On 30 July 1887 Nancy E. TAYLOR age 11 months died of Flux.7 Both girls were daughters of William W. and Mary TAYLOR. Emoline would have been the child born about the same time as Mollie.

If Wesley died when Mollie was about 8 years old, Mr. and Mrs. TAYLOR likely asked the stepmother to turn her over to them after the death of their second daughter in 1887. On the 1900 census, Mrs. TAYLOR is listed as the mother of 7, 2 living. The two living children were the sons who were still at home.8

Per the article, Wesley died about 1888. No death record was found in Scott County for the years between 1885 to 1890. I was, however, able to narrow the range of the date of death.

Wesley G. DEMPSTER gave a deposition in a chancery cause on 23 November 1886 in Estilville. He traveled 14 miles to give evidence on behalf of the complainant, W. P. GOOD, owner of a lumber mill near Natural Tunnel. The case file is 287 images. I found it yesterday and only had time to skim through it. I found mention of Wesley DEMPSTER who was “clerking in the store & measuring lumber in the yard” and kept the books for Mr. GOOD. At the time of the deposition, DEMPSTER had quit working for Mr. GOOD.9

“A Litte Waif” part 3 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

After the death of Dempster Mr. and Mrs. Taylor went to his second wife and asked that the little girl be turned over to them to raise, which was done. Shortly after this Dempster’s second wife went deranged, and is now an inmate of an insane asylum.

Mr. and Mrs. Taylor have, since taking charge of the little girl, cared for her just as if she was their own. She is now a bright, intelligent girl of thirteen, and is very fond of her foster parents.

The information about the step-mother being an inmate of an insane asylum confirmed the 1900 census listing found for a widowed lady named Polly DEMPSTER, an inmate in the Southwestern State Hospital.10 The article, written in 1893 pre-dates the census.

Two cases were found in the Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records mentioning Polly CAMPBELL aka Polly DEMPSTER. A judgment dated 16 May 1906 in the cause of Southwestern State Hospital vs B.J. Broadwater committee of Polly DEMPSTER awarded payment of nearly $5,000 to the hospital for the period 15 September 1887 to 29 March 1905. The case was not closed until 1912. The date range for the payment due to the hospital would suggest that Polly may have been an inmate since 15 September 1887. This would have been two months after the youngest TAYLOR girl died.11

I had not located a 1910 census listing for Polly prior to this find. With the knowledge that she may still be living, I searched again in the location of the hospital. Polly age 72 and widowed was in the hospital and therefore still living on 15 April 1910.12 She was indexed as “Polly Dunfota”

“A Litte Waif” part 4 of 4. Image courtesy of Chronicling America, database, on the Library of Congress website.

Dempster, during his residence in Scott county, was very particular to never tell where he came from, and when approached on this subject always evaded an answer; nor was he ever heard to mention the name of a relative; so that now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.

Dempster is described as having been a large, stoutly-built man, weighing over 200 pounds.

As discussed in part 1, on 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest. The record concerning the arrest gave this physical description of George: age 31 years, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers).13

There was no mention of George W. DEMPSEY’s weight or build in the description and no mention of Mr. DEMPSTER’s height, complexion, hair, or eyes in the article.

Mollie’s Story continues after 1893

When I began researching Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, I found an extract of her 1896 marriage record with W. W. TAYLOR and Mary E. TAYLOR as her parents.14 Mollie was single and only 16 years old. Her parents’ surname did not match hers suggesting they may not have been her parents. The record can only be viewed at a family history library or a FamilySearch affiliated library.

Even though I was not able to access the marriage record, I found a short mention of the marriage in The Post in a series called “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post.” It confirms that Robert P. BARRON and Miss Mollie DEMPSTER were united in the holy bonds of matrimony at the home of W. W. TAYLOR in 1896.15

Although the relationship of the TAYLORs to the bride and groom is not mentioned in the clipping, it is now known that Mollie was taken in and raised by them.

Wesley G. DEMPSTER

As seen in the chancery records found, Wesley’s death can be narrowed down to between 23 November 1886 and 15 December 1887.

The name Wesley G. DEMPSTER sent off warning bells as my third great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY, father of George W. DEMPSEY, had a brother names Wesley G. DEMPSEY (1808-1890). Wesley G. DEMPSTER  and Wesley G. DEMPSEY were not one and the same person as both were found in the 1880 census in different places. Wesley DEMPSTER age 50 was in Scott County and Wesley DEMPSEY age 71 was in Rockbridge County.

There is no trace of Wesley G. DEMPSTER before he shows up in the Scott County records. He should not be confused with Wesley DEMPSTER (1833-1913) born in New York and died in Chicago, Illinois. Some trees on Ancestry have the death of this man in Chicago attached to Mollie’s father, Wesley G. DEMPSTER.

Who were Wilson and Mary DEMPSTER, the couple named as the parents of Wesley G. DEMPSTER when he married in 1884? No person named Wilson DEMPSTER of the age to be the father of Wesley born between 1830-1834 was found in the census including in Nelson County, Virginia, where Wesley was supposedly born per the 1884 marriage record.

However, Wilson M. DEMPSEY is a familiar name in the DEMPSEY family history. He was the brother of Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Wesley G. DEMPSEY. Wilson was married twice, in 1839 and abt. 1848, both marriages being later than the estimated birth of Wesley G. DEMPSTER.

The article notes Wesley’s evasion of any questions about his family or where he came from. Is it a coincidence that the first names of two of Seaton’s brothers were the names used in records found for Wesley G. DEMPSTER? Is it possible the name he gave on his marriage record for his father was not his father’s and only a name he gave to cover up his true identity?

The story that came to life in “The Little Waif” was not known when I wrote about George W. DEMPSEY, the person of interest in my first post. The article was only found while I was writing about Mollie Lee DEMPSTER, my second person of interest. The newspaper article supports the information found for Mollie and her parents, both biological and foster.

Part 3 will cover the DNA tools I used to analyze the DNA matches and a conclusion/theory of where Mollie fits into my family tree. It would be incredible if I could refute the 128 years old claim: now the little girl’s identity, so far as kinship goes, is entirely lost.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. “A Litte Waif,” The Big Stone Gap post [Vol. 1, No. 24] (Big Stone Gap, Wise County, Virginia), 18 May 1893, p. 3, col. 3; image copy Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress (https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88061179/1893-05-18/ed-1/seq-1/ : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  2. 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: 1389; Virginia, Scott County, Taylor, Enumeration District 076, page 245A, Lines 24-25, HH #208-208, Wesley Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  3. “Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, GS Film Number: 2046967, Digital Folder Number: 004254526, image 191, line 155, Mollie L. Depster (sic) birth entry, (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C9YG-5VSX?i=190 : accessed 19 January 2021). 
  4. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia, Collection Record 1853-1912, Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 121 of 687, line 14, entry of death Mary J. Dempster. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-T8C?i=120&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  5. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” (index only), Ancestry.com, citing FamilySearch collection only available through FHL, FHL Film Number: 337187, Reference ID: 337187. Wesly Demster, male, widowed, age 50, born abt. 1834 in Nelson VA, father Wilson, Mother Mary, married 23 Sep 1884 in Scott VA, Polly Cambell, female, age 35, born abt. 1849 in NC, father Wyat Cambell. 
  6. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia),” Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 137 of 687, line 99, entry of death Emoline Taylor. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-YSB?i=136&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  7. Ibid., Film 2048584, DGS 4225408, image 148 of 687, line 110, entry of death Nancy E. Taylor. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DWT7-TNB?i=147&cat=780106 : accessed 11 February 2021). 
  8. 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: 1241732, Virginia, Wise County, Richmond, Enumeration District 127, Page 2A, HH #19-20, line 1-4, William W. Taylor. The official enumeration day of the 1900 census was 1 June 1900. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). 
  9. Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, (Digital images available for the years 1816-1912. Indexed information and originals available through 1942), Local Government Records Collection, Scott Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. W P Good v. S M Winchester, 1897-046. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1897-046 : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  10. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 145, Page 2A, line 17, Polly Dempster, patient. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 February 2021). 
  11. Scott County (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1816-1942, Southwestern State Hospital v. COMT OF Polly Dempster ETC, 1912-043. (https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=169-1912-043 : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  12. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1649, FHL microfilm: 1375662, Virginia, Smyth, Marion, Enumeration District 80, Page 5A, line 23, Polly Dempster. The official enumeration day of the 1910 census was 15 April 1910. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 February 2021). 
  13. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M345 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Dej-Den > image 856-858 of 1785. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939X-XF9K-8P?cc=1834304&wc=M6Y2-LP8%3A162217301 : 22 May 2014). 
  14. “Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940,” FHL Film Number: 34394, Reference ID: p 63 cn 112. Mellie L. Dempster, female, single, white, age 16, born 1880 in Natural Tunnel (Scott County VA), father W.W. Taylor, mother Mary E. Taylor, married 28 Sep 1896 in Big Stone Gap (Wise County VA), Robert P. Barton, male, single, white, age 28, born 1868 in Turkey (Lee County VA), father Wm. N. G. Barron, mother Louisa J. Barron. 
  15. “Looking Backward 50 Years Ago Today In The Post”, The Post (Big Stone Gap, Virginia), 24 Oct 1946, p. 10, col. 4; image copy, Newspaper.com (http://newspaper.com : accessed 11 February 2021), Historical Newspapers from 1700s to 2000s by Ancestry.com

Unraveling the Mystery of George W. Dempsey, son of Seaton Y. Dempsey and Clementine Gowing (part 1)

I have a theory I’m working on. It might not be very smart of me to share it here, but I see no other way to get others involved in helping me solve this mystery.

I know what happens when the wrong information is posted on the internet. People believe it, re-post it, and, suddenly, it becomes an accepted but unproven fact. The ancestor or relative’s story is changed as people go click-happy accepting hints.

In this first of two parts, a bit of background information will be shared on the person of interest.

Who was George W. Dempsey (b. abt. 1831)?

George W. DEMPSEY was the oldest child of my 3rd great-grandparents Seaton Y. DEMPSEY and Clementine M. GOWING who married 3 January 1829 in Amherst County, Virginia.1 Seaton, per the census, was the head of a household in 1830 with a young man, likely his younger brother Wesley, and a young woman, his wife Clementine.2 The young married couple didn’t yet have children. By 1840 they had three children including George who was less than 10 years old and over five.3 In 1850 George was still living at home and 19 years old.4 No birth records were found for Amherst County at this time and George’s birth has been estimated at about 1831.

On 20 December 1852, George married Rhoda A. STATON in Amherst County.5 Less than a year later, on 19 November 1853, their son Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY was born.6 Sometime after Andrew’s birth, Seaton Y. DEMPSEY’s family moved to the Fayetteville Township area of Fayette County, (West) Virginia. George and Rhoda were in his father’s household in 1860 with their son “Ceton A.” listed as age 5.7 If other children had been born to the couple before 1860, they did not survive. George’s oldest sister Geneva Elizabeth DEMPSEY remained in Amherst County and his brother William S. DEMPSEY, the second oldest son, had married and remained in Rockbridge County.

On 23 May 1862, during the Civil War, George W. DEMPSEY was arrested by Lt. Col. Henry W. BRAZEE of the 9th Virginia Volunteers. George, age 31 years, was described as 5 feet 9 1/2 inches, light complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, and long sprouts (whiskers). He said he had done nothing to cause the arrest.8

A year later George and Rhoda’s son Robert L. DEMPSEY was born in March 1863.9 Four years later, George and Rhoda had a daughter on 11 May 1867 in Fayetteville Township.10 She was named Polina E. and would go by Bettie and Lina in later years. In 1870 the little family was found in the census in Fayetteville Township: George A. (sic), Rhoda, Andrew S., Robert L., and Pertina E.11

On 29 December 1874, Andrew S. DEMPSEY, son of Geo. W. and R. A. DEMPSEY, married in Fayetteville. The marriage register entry does not indicate if the parents were living or deceased.12

There is the possibility that George was the man mentioned in a document dated 8 March 1876 when a contract with one Geo. W. DEMPSEY for road work on Arbuckle road in Fayette County was annulled.

I’ve researched all three DEMPSEY lines who lived in Fayette County at this time. There was a younger George Washington DEMPSEY, son of John W. DEMPSEY and Amelia RIDDLE, born in December 1851 who would have also been old enough to be the man mentioned in the record above. I cannot at this time say if this contract was for George b. 1831 or George b. 1851. I had planned on sharing the images and transcription of the document but decided against it. Anyone interested in the document can view it at the link in the citation.13

George W. DEMPSEY and his wife were not found in the 1880 census. Therefore, there is a decade from 1870 to 1880 in which their whereabouts are unknown.

The death of George W. DEMPSEY

George W. DEMPSEY did not die on 16 November 1879 and he was not buried in Hampton National Cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, in grave number 5369.

1880 U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedule. Image courtesy of Ancestry.com

The man buried in Hampton National Cemetery served as a volunteer in Company K of Regiment 8 of New Jersey.14, 15 He was a 70 years old widower and had been a resident of the National Soldiers Home for 5 years16. He was born about 1809 and over 20 years older than George W. DEMPSEY of Fayette County. Records found for this man’s death have been erroneously attached to George W. DEMPSEY, son of Seaton Y. and Clementine.

I learned the date of death was wrong, i.e. not for George W. DEMPSEY of Virginia, by viewing the documents. This is why we should always view the available images and not rely on the index. If only an index is offered, it is wise to review the source information to learn if the records are available in image form on the same site or on another.

With the confusion concerning George’s death in 1879 out of the way, what happened to him? Where was he in 1880?

The Children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON from 1880 until…

In 1880, two of the three known children of George W. DEMPSEY and Rhoda A. STATON were found in the census. They lived about 165 miles apart. That may not seem like much in our days but in 1880 this was not a quick drive on the interstate.

Andrew Seaton DEMPSEY (1853-1924) was 27 years old, married with two children, and living in Fayetteville17 where the family had been since coming from Amherst County around 1855.18

Andrew would remain in Fayetteville and raise a family of nine children. No death record has been found but his tombstone in Huse Memorial Park indicates he died in 1924.

The whereabouts of Robert L. DEMPSEY (1863-aft. 1930) in 1880 is unknown. Robert married Mary Frances DARR in Kanawha County in 1892. None of the records found name his parents and a record of death is missing. Robert and his wife gave their children unusual middle names which strongly support his being George’s son. His oldest son was named Paul Seaton, his youngest son Edgar Younger (the assumed middle name of his great-grandfather Seaton Y. DEMPSEY), and his son Robert Darr was given his mother’s maiden name.

Polina Elizabeth DEMPSEY (1867-1941) was 13 years old in 1880, a servant living in Pedlar District of Amherst County with a MASON household.19

Bettie, as she was more often known, lived in Rockbridge County, Virginia, from at least 1884 when her first daughter was born in Cornwall.20 Bettie had eight children before marrying William W. SORRELS in 1916. Her 1941 death certificate gives her mother’s name as Rhoda STATON and her father’s name as not known.21

What Happened to George W. DEMPSEY?

With two of the three children of George and Rhoda accounted for in the 1880 census, several questions remain. Where were George, Rhoda, and Robert in 1880? Why was their 13-year-old daughter found in Amherst? Were both George and Rhoda still living, only one of them living, or neither?

Assuming George W. DEMPSEY was living in 1880, where might he have gone? Could he have started a new family? Have descendants of his known and maybe unknown children had their DNA tested?

The second part of this post will be published in two weeks’ time as next Sunday’s post will be My Ancestor Score as of Valentine’s Day 2021.

© 2021, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

 


  1. 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, DGS 7578824, Film 30273, image 589 of 786, Date: 1829 Jan 3; Name of husband: Dempsey, Seaton Y.; Name of wife: Gowing, Clementina; Security and witnesses: Landon S. Gowing, Philip Smith Sr., Ro. Tinsley. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XF-N8WJ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  2. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, Roll: 194; History Library Film: 0029673, Virginia, Amherst, page 519, line 1, Seaton Y. Dempsey household. The official enumeration day of the 1830 census was 1 June 1830. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  3. 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, Roll: 550, Family History Library Film: 0029683, Virginia, Amherst, Page: 214, line 28, Seaton Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1840 census was 1 June 1840. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  4. 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: 933, Virginia, Amherst County, Eastern District, page: 76a (stamped), lines 1-9, HH #40-40, Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 13 February 2013). 
  5. Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853, image 784 of 786, left page, 5th entry from bottom, Geo W Dempsey and Rhoda A. Staton married 20 Dec 1852. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9XF-NZMP?i=783 : accessed 21 January 2021). 
  6. Audrey Blankenship Gill, photographer, photo of a grave marker in Huse Memorial Park, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, taken on 3 April 2007. Inscription: Dempsey, Andrew Seaton Nov. 19, 1853-Mar. 12, 1928 and Dempsey, Caroline Burgess June 12, 1852-May 10, 1933. 
  7. 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, Family History Library Film: 805344, West Virginia, Fayette County, District 2, page No. 142, lines 28-37, HH #1352-687 and #1353-688, Dempsey households. The official enumeration day of the 1860 census was 1 June 1860. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  8. “United States Union Provost Marshal Files of Individual Civilians, 1861-1866,” images, FamilySearch, citing NARA microfilm publication M345 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), Dej-Den > image 856-858 of 1785. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939X-XF9K-8P?cc=1834304&wc=M6Y2-LP8%3A162217301 : 22 May 2014). 
  9. Month and year of birth from the 1900 census. I have not found records supporting his middle name being Luther as seen on many family trees. A son’s delayed birth certificate and a daughter’s obituary name the father as Robert Lee DEMPSEY. 
  10.  “West Virginia Births, 1853-1930,” database, FamilySearch, citing Fayetteville Twp, Fayette, West Virginia, United States, county courthouses, West Virginia; FHL microfilm 584,755,  line31, Polina E Dempsey, May 1867, image on WVCulture (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view2.aspx?FilmNumber=584755&ImageNumber=13 : accessed 6 February 2021) 
  11. 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_1686, Family History Library Film: 553185, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, page 113A, line 40, and page 113B, lines 1-4, HH #9-9, Dempsey George A (sic). The official enumeration day of the 1870 census was 1 June 1870. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 19 February 2013). 
  12. West Virginia Marriages, 1780-1970 (database index, FamilySearch, database images <I>West Virginia Division of Culture and History</I>), 29 Dec 1874, Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, Andrew S. Dempsey, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, s/o Geo W. and R. A. Dempsey, Caroline Burgess, 21y, single, born Fayette, residing Fayette, d/o Andrew and ~ Burgess. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=12086567&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 February 2021). 
  13. Loose papers, ca. 1787-1875 (1901), (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the West Virginia University Library in Morgantown, West Virginia. Contains original deeds, guardianship, wills, road records, and other types of documents that were recorded before the courts. DGS 7616766, Film 186347, Loose papers (boxes 1-2), env. ?-1 to ?-3 (no dates), env. 1787-1, 1824-1, 1841-1, 1851-1 to 1869-3, image 498 (lower right) and 499 (upper right) of 584. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9VT-QCR9?cat=302047 : accessed 5 February 2021). 
  14. U.S., National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962. Ancestry.com. (database online) citing Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. The National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2590/images/40479_1521003239_0476-03252?treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&_ga=2.250633295.855475264.1612270652-785982050.1593849185&pId=2196090 : accessed 3 February 2021) 
  15. The National Cemetery Administration; Hampton National Cemetery, Burial Register, 1833-1935. Ancestry.com (online database), U.S., Burial Registers, Military Posts and National Cemeteries, 1862-1960 citing Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Quartermaster General. (09/18/1947–08/01/1962). Burial Registers of Military Post and National Cemeteries, compiled ca. 1862–ca. 1960. ARC ID: 4478151. Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, 1774–1985, Record Group 92. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/3135/images/B0121384-00171?usePUB=true&_phsrc=Wbz35595&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&pId=496218 : accessed 3 February 2021) 
  16. U.S., Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885. Ancestry.com (online database) citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Non-population Census Schedules for Virginia, 1850-1880; Archive Collection: T1132; Archive Roll Number: 18; Census Year: 1879; Census Place: Hampton National Soldiers Home, Elizabeth City, Virginia; Page: 471. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8756/images/VAT1132_18-0312?usePUB=true&usePUBJs=true&pId=2170177 : accessed 3 February 2021) 
  17. 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: 1402, West Virginia, Fayette County, Fayetteville, Enumeration District 27, page 31B, lines 17-20, HH #339, Andrew S Dempsey. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  18. Seaton’s youngest child was born in Amherst in 1853. His brother Wilson was in Fayette County for the birth of a slave named Orange on 11 June 1855. Wilson’s residence at the time was listed as Amherst. He may have set up temporary housekeeping in Fayette with Mary, the mother of Orange, and preparing for the permanent move from Amherst to Fayette with his second wife and children from both marriages. 
  19. 1880 Census, Roll: 1353; Virginia, Amherst County, Pedlar, Enumeration District 20, page 238D, line 22, HH #27-27, Marvel Mason. The official enumeration day of the 1880 census was 1 June 1880. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 6 February 2021). 
  20. “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014,” (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, citing Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia, State file no. 23586, Registration area no. 815B, Registered no. 9. Nanny Dempsey, female, white, age 64, born 10 May 1884, died 20 Oct 1948 in Vesuvius, Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 3 Nov 1948, mother Betty Dempsey. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 January 2016). 
  21. Ibid., State file no. 25092, Registration area no. 815A, Registered no. 9. Betty P Dempsey Sorrels, female, white, age 71, born 11 May 1870, died 8 Sep 1941 in Rockbridge, Virginia, registration date 9 Nov 1941, mother Rhoda Staton, spouse W W Sorrels. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 January 2016). 

The Ancestors: Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) and Elizabeth DAVIS (1738-1807)

This was a hard piece to write. A month ago, after spending weeks gathering and reviewing all the information I had on these ancestors, I began writing this post. While drafting the post I kept finding other things to do. I went back and forth considering how I should write it. I’m now at the point that I just want to get it out of the way by publishing it as is.

Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) and Elizabeth DAVIS (1738-1807) were my 5th great-grandparents and the parents of my 4th great-grandmother Rachel WISEMAN (1769-bet. 1821-1824) who married Frederick HONAKER (1757-1824).

When I was new to genealogy research, I trusted the information I found and did not challenge it. As I began to do my own research, I questioned work done by others. In some cases, I made an effort to prove or disprove their research. I’m especially fond of working on my female lines but the WISEMAN family has always been put on the back burner.

For the WISEMAN line, I  attempted to locate evidence of the parents, siblings, husband, and children of my 4th great-grandmother Rachel WISEMAN and wrote about my findings in my 2014 post 52 Ancestors: #33 Rachel WISEMAN 1769-bet. 1821-1824.

The post was written during my first year of blogging. I didn’t include source citations. Links to online documents were used throughout the post but I doubt many readers clicked on them to view the records.  When I revisited my post and research I added 28 citations to make it easier for the reader or researcher to review the sources. [Did I mention the other things I’ve been doing?] 

Rachel’s story includes the names of all of her siblings as well as their spouses’ names and their dates of marriage. I’ve pondered how to write about Rachel’s parents Isaac and Elizabeth. Should I start from scratch or should I build on what has already been published?

Taking the middle road

I’ve decided to take the middle road which led me to work done by dedicated historians and genealogists of the WISEMAN family.

The Wiseman Family Association was first organized in 1908 by Dr. B. W. S. WISEMAN, compiler and author of a WISEMAN genealogy.1 Benjamin Winfield Scott WISEMAN was a great-grandson of Isaac WISEMAN 1738 through his son Samuel (1771-1861). WISEMAN descendants and members of the association have continued to update the WISEMAN family tree originally created from information in B.W.S.’s book. Their website was initiated on 22 August 2003 and appears to have been last updated in 2017, likely before Ancestry took down the RootsWeb site. I don’t know if more recent additions to the family tree are available online.

B.W.S. WISEMAN, in his 1908 publication, acknowledged the work of his second cousin C.M.L. WISEMAN who published in 1902. B.W.S. gives a more detailed genealogy of most of the sons of Isaac WISEMAN 1738. Neither of the authors had any biographical information on the four daughters of Isaac other than their married names.

Charles Milton Lewis WISEMAN of the 1902 publication was a great-grandson of Isaac WISEMAN 1738 through his son Rev. John WISEMAN (1760-1842). He wrote the following:

Brief Sketch of the Wiseman Family

My grandfather, Rev. John Wiseman was born in Berks county, Pennsylvania, before the War of the Revolution; indeed, was old enough and served in that war, and was in the memorable winter quarters at Valley Forge with Washington. His father, Isaac Wiseman, moved from Berks county, Pennsylvania, with a large family of sons and daughters to Rockingham county, Virginia, soon after the war, and there my grandfather married Sarah Green, one of another large family. From that county they moved to Monroe county, Virginia, where my father, Philip S. Wiseman, was born. Of the descendants of Isaac Wiseman and James Green some few remained in Virginia, others moved to Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana. The greater number moved to Ohio and Kentucky. The descendants of Isaac Wiseman alone must exceed 1,000 persons in number. The names of father’s uncles were William, Joseph, Isaac, Abner, Jacob and Samuel. Samuel died near New Salem at 90 years of age; Jacob and Abner in Kentucky, William and Joseph in Virginia, and Isaac near Gallipolis, Ohio. One of his aunts married a Blanton, who moved to Kentucky, and one a Honiker, who died in Virginia. I have been in the graveyard in Virginia, near Union, Monroe county, where Isaac Wiseman and wife are buried, and where father’s sister and brother are buried, and I have also been in the church near by, where they all attended Methodist church, and where my grandfather often preached. It is a lovely spot, with a hight range of mountains in full view for more than twenty miles.2

A bit further into the sketch of his family, C.M.L. wrote:

Rev. John Wiseman was commissioned a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the year 1785, by the first American Bishop of that church, Francis Asbury. The commission, in the Bishop’s own writing, is in the possession of the late Judge Wiseman’s widow at New Salem.3

I used the document he mentioned as the background of the featured image of this post. Immediately following this statement, the author listed names and dates for his line down from Isaac beginning with this list of the children of Isaac WISEMAN 1738:

FAMILY RECORD OF ISAAC WISEMAN, OF VIRGINIA.

Joseph Wiseman, born March 29th 1759.
John Wiseman, born August 18th, 1760.
Sarah Wiseman, born July 17th, 1762.
Isaac Wiseman, born June 19th, 1764.
Jacob Wiseman, born January 12th, 1767.
Rachael Wiseman, born March 1st, 1769.
Samuel Wiseman, born February 15th, 1771.
Abner Wiseman, born 1772.
Betsey Wiseman, born 1774.
Peggy Wiseman, born 1777.
William Wiseman, born 1779.

Rachael is my 4th great-grandmother and all the rest are my 4th great-grand uncles and 4th great-grand aunts. Does a WISEMAN family Bible still exist today with the dates found in this derivative source?

The many men named Isaac WISEMAN

According to Robert N. WISEMAN, a historian of the Wiseman Family Association, the Isaac WISEMAN situation gets a bit confusing when it comes to how Isaac WISEMAN’s name is seen in family genealogies. Shortly after B.W.S. published his book in 1908 he discovered that Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) who he considered “Isaac I” had a father whose name was also Isaac. [I believe I’ve found how he made the discovery and will discuss this in a moment.] The Wiseman Family Association decided to dub the father “Isaac Sr.”4 One of Robert’s lines goes through Isaac Sr., Isaac I, Isaac II, Isaac III.

Personally, I believe it would be more helpful to consider the men by the year they were born as no records are to be found with the suffixes I, II, or III. I’ve opted to refer to my 5th great-grandfather as Isaac WISEMAN 1738 instead of Isaac I. His father will be considered Isaac the elder or Isaac Sr. as no year of birth is known.

As noted previously, historians of the Wiseman Family Association have been researching the family and sharing their information. The research notes and part of The Story of a Wiseman by Robert Dean WISEMAN (1933-2015) can be found here: Bob Wiseman Research. He included different steps taken to gather information and prove events as well as marking unproven or questionable information as such. Mr. Wiseman and the researchers he worked with spent years putting the information together. It would take a lifetime to check and follow-up on the research.

Many entries on tax lists for Berks County for Isaac Wiseman are listed by year and township in Bob’s research. I recently found the Tax Lists, 1752-1856 for Berks County, Pennsylvania are available online at FamilySearch. They are not indexed and browse-only. With the years and townships given in Robert D. Wiseman’s research notes, I may be able to locate some of these. A to-do item for a later date as it should be thorough and not restricted to locating the records already found. What if something important to the timeline has been missed?

Isaac WISEMAN (1738-1818) and Elizabeth DAVIS (1738-1807)

Isaac’s oldest son Joseph (1759-1836) applied for a pension in 1832 for his service during the Revolutionary War.5 He stated he “was born in the year 1759 in the County of Berks and State of Pennsylvania, as he has read the record of it in his Father’s bible, from which he recorded it in his own bible which is now in his possession.” After his death in 1836 and his widow’s death in 1842, his son Samuel applied for pension money on behalf of himself and his surviving siblings in 1847. He submitted his father’s family record with the dates of birth and date for my 5th great-grandparents Elizabeth DAVIS and Isaac WISEMAN.

In Joseph’s hand, as copied from his father Isaac’s Bible, “Elisabeth Wiseman daughter to Samuel Davis was born August 26th 1738 and Decst (deceased) July 19th 1807.

Pages of Joseph Wiseman’s family Bible found in his Revolutionary War Pension Application file.

Also, “Isaac Wiseman son to Isaac and Marey Wiseman was born August 18, 1738 and Decest (deceased) May the 3 in 1818.

Pages of Joseph Wiseman’s family Bible found in his Revolutionary War Pension Application file.

The above images are only two of the five images from the family Bible included in the file. The pension file also includes correspondence dated 1911 from B.W.S. WISEMAN requesting copies of the entire file. As Joseph’s family record gives the names of the parents of Elizabeth and Isaac, I believe this is the source that led to B.W.S.’s discovery that Isaac WISEMAN 1738’s father was also an Isaac.

Samuel DAVIS, father-in-law of Isaac 1738

Only the name of Elizabeth’s father is known from the family record submitted by his grandson Samuel (son of Joseph). Even with the maiden name, a marriage record of Isaac WISEMAN and Elizabeth DAVIS has not been found. It is assumed they married before the birth of their oldest child in 1759.

Isaac and Mary WISEMAN, parents of Isaac 1738

The maiden name of Isaac 1738’s mother Mary is unproven although some genealogists report it to be MARSHALL. While writing this, I have pruned the tree, removing John MARSHALL as the father of Mary and now showing her name as Mary _____.

Isaac 1738’s father Isaac, according to an old family traditional story, was born aboard a ship en route to America. Two dates are often noted: 1699 and about 1706. The first – 1699 – is from the theory that the father of Isaac the elder came over with William Penn on the Canterbury Merchant in 1699. No known passenger list exists for the ship. The second – about 1706 – is from the theory that Isaac the elder was the son of Thomas WISEMAN first seen in Germantown, Philadelphia County in 1706 when he purchased land from Matthias Van Bebber. Professional genealogists were hired by the Wiseman Family Association to obtain records but neither theory has been proven.

Isaac WISEMAN, the father of Isaac 1738, left Berks County around 1768 and was first seen on a tax list in Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1772.6 He bought land in Rowan County in 1778 and left it to his heirs in his will in 1779.7,8 His widow Mary left a will written 28 December 1790 and proven 10 November 17919,10 as well as an inventory dated February 1792.11 Although Isaac and Mary named some of their children in their wills, they did not mention Isaac.

The daughters of Isaac WISEMAN 1738 and Elizabeth DAVIS

Isaac and Elizabeth were the parents of eleven children born between 1759 and 1779. Much is known of their seven sons’ lines as they were looked into by the great-grandsons. Neither of the authors of the early genealogies of the WISEMAN family knew much of the four daughters.

From the brief sketch of the WISEMAN family it is knows that the family was in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Rockbridge County, Virginia. Sarah, the oldest, married in Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1782 where she and her husband James BARLEY raised their children.12

The next oldest daughter, Rachel also married in Rockbridge County. She married Frederick HONAKER in 1795.13 It was a second marriage for Frederick and Rachel brought a 10-year-old daughter into the marriage. Rachel and Frederick went with her parents and siblings to Greenbrier County around 1797-1798. They settled in the area that would become Monroe County in 1799. Rachel and Frederick raised their family in Monroe and are buried in the Rehoboth Church Cemetery where her parents are also said to be buried.

Elizabeth married John BLANTON in 1798 in Greenbrier County.14 They went to Kentucky where her brothers Abner and Jacob had also gone.

The youngest daughter Margaret, also known as Peggy, married Bartholomew RAMSEY in 1799 in Monroe County.15,16 They raised their family in Nicholas County and Fayette County when it was formed in 1831.

Now that I know where the information found in so many family trees is coming from, I have a better feel of what I can work on to leave a documented history of my 5th great-grandparents Isaac WISEMAN 1738 and Elizabeth DAVIS.

It would be awesome if someone reading this post would reach out to me with more information, especially on Elizabeth DAVIS during Women’s History Month.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Dr. Benjamin Winfield Scott Wiseman, Wiseman genealogy and biography, digital images of original, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/163120-wiseman-genealogy-and-biography : accessed 12 February 2020), FL52150_TN-1474326, digitized by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 2008 [originally published: Culver, Indiana, 1910] 
  2. C. M. L. Wiseman, The Wiseman Family and the Old Church at New Salem : a brief sketch, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/57919-the-wiseman-family-and-the-old-church-at-new-salem-a-brief-sketch : accessed 12 February 2020), FL1103481_TN-76231, digitized by FamilySearch International, 2013, [originally published: Columbus, Ohio : Fred J. Heer, 1902], p. 7-8. 
  3. Ibid., p. 23-24. 
  4. Robert N. Wiseman, Senior Historian of the Wiseman Family Association, comment posted 3 February 2020 in the Nicholas County WV Genealogy group on Facebook and personal message conversation between Robert and Cathy on 24-25 February 2020. 
  5. “Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900,” database and images, Ancestry.com, citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M804, 2,670 rolls. Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Images of the papers in the Revolutionary War file of Joseph Wiseman including images of family bible pages with the names and dates of birth and death of his parents. 
  6. Bob Wiseman Research
  7. “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” index and images, Ancestry, North Carolina County, District and Probate Courts, Wills and estate papers (Rowan County), 1663-1978, North Carolina, Rowan County, Original wills, Verble, Daniel – Zimmerman, Christian, file of Isaac Wiseman. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2019). 
  8. Ibid., North Carolina, Rowan County, Wills, Vol A-F, 1757-1807, Isaac Wiseman, page 184. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2019). 
  9. “North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998,” North Carolina, Rowan County, Original wills, Verble, Daniel – Zimmerman, Christian, file of Mary Wiseman. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 June 2019). 
  10. “North Carolina Probate Records, 1735-1970,” Rowan > Wills, 1781-1791, Vol. B > image 94+95 of 230, Will of Mary Wiseman, pages 179-181. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S7WF-3Q9C-79?cc=1867501&wc=32LR-7M3%3A169928201%2C170967101 : accessed 6 March 2020). 
  11. “North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing State Archives, Raleigh., Rowan County > W > Wiseman, Mary (1792) > image 2 of 3. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PPC-9MZF?cc=1911121&wc=Q6W1-9GT%3A184173301%2C183410401%2C198415701 : accessed 6 March 2020). 
  12. Dodd,Jordan,  Virginia, Marriages, 1660-1800, [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1997. Original data: Electronic transcription of marriage records held by the individual counties in Virginia. 
  13. Ibid. 
  14. 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, Greenbrier, Jno. Blanton and Eliza. 1797/9 (1798), left page, last entry. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10970066&Type=Marriage : accessed 12 August 2014). 
  15. Ibid., Monroe County, 1799, Margaret Wiseman and Bartholomey Ramsey. 1799 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370451&Type=Marriage : accessed 12 August 2014). 
  16. Ibid., Monroe County, 22 October 1799, Margaret Wiseman and Bartholomey Ramsey. 1799 Marriage Record. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369649&Type=Marriage : accessed 12 August 2014). 

The Ancestors: Bailey WOOD and Nancy, his wife (392 & 393)

Once you’ve worked your way back to ancestors who lived in America in the late 18th and early 19th century, it becomes more difficult to gather the records to tell their stories. This is the case with most of my paternal 5th great-grandparents.

Difficult does not mean impossible.

Bailey and Nancy WOOD are a set of these 5th great-grandparents. They lived in the counties of Greenbrier, Monroe, and Nicholas in western Virginia (present-day West Virginia) as early as 1781 and as late as 1826. Neither were ever listed by name on a census. Neither left a known marriage record. Neither left a birth or death record.

They were likely born about 1750 in unknown parts. Bailey as will be seen below, died about 1820 while Nancy lived at least until 1826.

Two important records have been found by previous family researchers that help to tell a part of their story. One of these is from 1781 and gives insight into the religion of the family while the other is from 1826 and concerns land owned by Bailey WOOD.

Original Members of the Old Greenbrier Church

On 24 November 1781, the Baptist faith gained a more permanent footing in the Greenbrier region when Pastor John ALDERSON organized the Old Greenbrier Church at Alderson. It was the first Baptist organization west of the Alleghenies and the oldest of any denomination to be established in this section of the country. Its twelve original members were John ALDERSON, Mary ALDERSON, Thomas ALDERSON, John KIPPERS, John SHEPPERD, John SKAGGS, Katherine SKAGGS, Joseph SKAGGS, Lucy SKAGGS, Bailey WOOD, Ann WOOD, and James WOOD.1

Is has been assumed by many WOOD descendants that Ann WOOD who was a charter member of the church was Bailey’s wife. However, an 1826 record names his wife as Nancy WOOD. Were Ann WOOD and Nancy WOOD the same person? To answer this, the record from 1826 needs to be examined.

1826 Indenture

This 1826 indenture is a deed of bargain and sale by the heirs of Bailey WOOD to John ALDERSON.2 For easier reading commas missing in the original have been added to this transcription in red.

This indenture made the 21st day of September one thousand eight hundred and twenty six between James Wood & Polly his wife, Bailey Wood and Lucretia his wife, William Wood & Mary his wife, Richard Skaggs and Susannah his wife, Martin McGraw & Nancy his wife, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth his wife, Katherine Wood, heirs and legal representatives of Bailey Wood decd and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood decd of the county of Nicholas and state of Virginia of the one part and John Alderson of the County of Monroe and state aforesaid of the other part. Witnesseth that the said heirs & widow of Bailey Wood Decd for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar to them in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained and sold and by these presents do bargain and sell unto the said John Alderson and his heirs a certain tract or parcel of land containing one hundred acres more or less lying on the south side of the Greenbrier river in Monroe County adjoining the lands of William Johnson and James Graham and bounded as followeth. To wit: Beginning at a popular and beech corner to John Lusk on the south side of the river and with his line S12° E74 poles to 2 Beaches S55° E64 poles to a poplar & sugar tree S22 poles to a poplar and white oak nigh a draugh S75° E38 poles to 2 Buckeye N30° E27 poles to a buckeye and sugar tree N22° W8 poles to 2 Elms N30° E50 poles to 2 hickories N10° E42 poles to 2 Buckeyes N23° W36 poles crossing the river to 2 birches on the river bank and from there to the beginning with all its appurtenances. To have and to hold the said tract or parcel of Land with its appurtenances & with all and singular the appurtenances heriditriments thereunto belonging and the said heirs & widow aforesaid do covenant with the said John Alderson the said tract or parcel of Land from themselves & from their heirs Executors & administrators the tract or parcel of land aforesaid from all and every person or persons will warrant and forever defend in witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals this day and date first above written.

James Wood (seal)
Polly (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Bailey Wood (seal)
Lucretia (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Wm Wood (seal)
Mary (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Richard (his o mark) Skaggs (seal)
Susannah (her X mark) Skaggs (seal)
Martin Magraw (seal)
Nancy (her X mark) McGraw (seal)
Saml McGraw (seal)
Elizabeth (her X mark) McGraw (seal)
Katherine (her X mark) Wood (seal)
Nancy (her X mark) Wood (seal)

Nicholas County to wit:
We William Carnefix and James Skaggs justice of the Peace of the County of Nicholas and the state of Virginia do hereby certify that James Wood, Bailey Wood, William Wood, Richard Skaggs, Martin McGraw, Samuel McGraw parties to a certain deed bearing date 21st September 1826 and hereunto annexed personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid and acknowledged the same to be their act and deed & desired us to certify the said acknowledgment to the Clerk of the County Court of Monroe in order that the said deed may be recorded. Given under our hands and seals this 21st day of Septr 1826.

W. Carnefix (seal)
James Skaggs (seal)

Nicholas County
We William Carnefix and James Skaggs justices of the peace in the County of Nicholas aforesaid in the state of Virginia do hereby certify the Polly Wood the wife of James Wood Lucretia Wood the wife of Bailey Wood, Mary Wood the wife of William Wood, Susannah Skaggs the wife of Richard Skaggs, Nancy McGraw the wife of Martin McGraw, Elizabeth McGraw the wife of Samuel McGraw, Katherine Wood and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood, decd parties to a certain Deed bearing date the 21st of September 1826 and hereunto annexed personally appeared before us in our county aforesaid and being examined by us privily and apart from their said (said marked out) husbands and having the deed aforesaid fully explained to them they the said Polly Wood, Lucretia Wood, Mary Wood, Susannah Skaggs, Nancy McGraw, Elizabeth McGraw, Katherine Wood and Nancy Wood widow of Bailey Wood decd acknowledge the same to be their act and Deed and declared that they had willingly signed sealed and delivered the same and that they wished not to retract it.
Given under our hands and seals this 21st day of Septr 1826

W. Carnefix (seal)
James Skaggs (seal)

Monroe county clerks office February 10, 1842:
     This deed of bargain & sale from Bailey Woods heirs to John Alderson was acknowledged before two Magestrates in the county of Nicholas & certified and admitted to record.

Teste: Geo. Hutchinson, Jr, CMC

Transcription vs Original Record

Until last week I’d never seen the actual document. On New Year’s Day, I found the original record on FamilySearch. It seemed like a good omen for my genealogy research and a great start for the New Year 2020.

I did my own transcription even though I’ve had a transcript of this indenture for nearly two decades. I received it from a WOOD researcher and descendant, Vernon A. Fox (1924-2002), in an email dated 31 May 2001. My transcription is not 100% the same as the work sent to me by Mr. Fox. Some of the call lines did not match, several words were different, commas had been added, some words were missing, and abbreviated words and symbols had been written out. All of these differences could mean the transcriber was working from a different or less legible copy of the deed.

Narrowing the range for the date of death of Baily WOOD

It has been assumed Bailey WOOD died before 21 September 1826, the date of this indenture. He was not found in the 1810 or 1820 census, i.e. he was not found as a head of household. The 1800 census is lost for Virginia. Bailey did not leave a will in any of the counties he was known to have lived in. No administrative bonds for his estate were found. What other records did he produce which might narrow the range of death?

While checking the catalog at FamilySearch for records in Monroe County, West Virginia, I not only found the above indenture in the Deed Book but also the Land Books, registers in which the tax on land was recorded for each year since Monroe County was formed in 1799.

In the Land Book, I found the 100 acres mentioned in the deed above was taxed from 1810 until 1842. From 1810 to 1819 the owner is listed as Bailey WOOD. From 1821 to 1842 the owner is listed as “Bailey WOOD heirs.” The district in which the land was listed is missing for 1820. How was the landowner listed in 1820? As Bailey WOOD or his heirs? Even with this missing year, the death of Bailey WOOD can be estimated at between 1819-1821 as taxes were paid by him in 1819 and by his heirs in 1821.3

The Heirs and Legal Representatives of Bailey WOOD

Let’s take a look at the heirs and legal representatives. Who were they and when were they married? If their marriage records did not prove Bailey WOOD was their father, would they at least show the individuals were old enough to be children of Bailey and not grandchildren of deceased children?

The indenture shows Bailey WOOD left a widow named Nancy WOOD and the following heirs and legal representatives:

  • James Wood & Polly his wife
  • Bailey Wood & Lucretia his wife
  • William Wood & Mary his wife
  • Richard Skaggs & Susannah his wife
  • Martin McGraw & Nancy his wife
  • Samuel McGraw & Elizabeth his wife
  • Katherine Wood

Of the heirs who were married, records have been found for of all except Bailey WOOD Jr. and his wife Lucretia SKAGGS. All were performed by John ALDERSON – not unusual as the WOOD family were practicing Baptists and members of Alderson’s Old Greenbrier Church.

Susannah WOOD married Richard SKAGGS on 10 March 1789.4 The marriage entry does not name the parents of either the bride or groom.

William WOOD married Mary Ann McGRAW on 18 June 1800.5, 6, 7 Martin and Margaret McGRAW gave permission for their daughter to marry. John WOOD went bond with William WOOD on this marriage. The identity of John WOOD is unknown.

Nancy WOOD married Martin McGRAW Jr. on 3 May 1806.8 The marriage entry does not name parents of either Nancy or Martin.

Bailey WOOD Jr. married Lucretia SKAGGS, likely before 1807. No marriage record has been found. A similar indenture to the 1826 Wood indenture with heirs was found. This 1841 John SKAGGS heirs to Joshua ELLIS deed of bargain and sale includes Bailey WOOD and wife Lucretia as heirs of John SKAGGS who left a widow Catherine SKAGGS. This couple was two of the charter members of the Baptist church formed by John ALDERSON. This record proves Bailey WOOD Jr.’s wife Lucretia was a SKAGGS, daughter of John SKAGGS and Catherine HICKS.9

James WOOD married Mary HALSTEAD on 26 April 1810.10, 11, 12 Neither the marriage entry nor the bond gives information on the parentage of the bride and groom.

Elizabeth WOOD married Samuel McGRAW on 28 May 1812.13, 14 The marriage bond identifies Bailey WOOD as the father of Elizabeth WOOD.

Bailey WOOD was only identified as the father of Elizabeth, the youngest child who was the last to marry. As all of the other heirs married prior to Elizabeth they cannot be grandchildren and therefore must be children of Bailey WOOD.

As Katherine WOOD was named as an heir in 1826 she must have been of age (21 or older) at the time and born 1805 or earlier. An 1850 census listing for Fayette County was found for one Catherine WOOD age 56 (born abt. 1794) living in a SKAGGS household along with a man named James C. WOOD age 27.15 The two WOOD individuals are alone in a household in 1860. The occupation of the woman is governess but crossed out and replaced by wife even though the age of the man is 30 and the woman 60.16 This was done on several other listings on this census and cannot be reliable. I suspect this could be Bailey’s daughter Katherine and that she had a son out of wedlock. Further research is needed as neither were located in the census after 1860.

Who was Bailey WOOD’s wife?

Was Nancy WOOD named as the widow of Bailey WOOD in the indenture the mother of all of the children?

Bailey acquired 450 acres by grant in Greenbrier County in 1788.17 In 1803 he sold 127 acres of the 450 acres land grant to William GRAHAM.18 The other 323 acres were sold to Robert GWINN by Bailey WOOD and his wife Nancy in 1804.19 Nancy was, therefore, his wife as early as 1804.

Ann WOOD, a charter member of the baptist church (1781), was dismissed from the church on 23 April 1825 as was another woman named Polly WOOD.20 Members were dismissed when they left the church for other parts. As both of these women were dismissed on the same date, it would seem probable that they were from the same family. Polly WOOD could be Mary HALSTEAD, wife of James WOOD. If Polly was Mary, could Ann who had been a member for 44 years be her mother-in-law Nancy?

In 1820 Richard SKAGGS (husband of Susannah WOOD)21, William WOOD22, Martin McGRAW (husband of Mary WOOD)23, and Bailey WOOD Jr. were in Nicholas County. They had all moved to Nicholas County before the census.

James WOOD24 and Samuel McGRAW25 (husband of Elizabeth WOOD) were in Monroe County in 1820. James WOOD would move to Nicholas County by 1830. Samuel McGRAW would be in Greenbrier by 1825.

Only James WOOD’s census listing includes an older woman who could be his mother Nancy and a young woman who could be his single sister Katherine.

These census listings account for all of Bailey’s children and his widow in 1820. If my analysis is correct, Bailey WOOD must have died 1819-1820 after the land tax was recorded for 1819 and before the census was taken in 1820. This would support the assumption that the older woman in James’ household was Bailey’s widow Nancy.

Putting the speculation to rest

I strongly believe Ann and Nancy were used interchangeably by Bailey WOOD’s wife. To date, Nancy’s maiden name is unknown. There are hundreds of family trees on Ancestry that have her listed as Nancy HICKS. The maiden name is undocumented.

I found an old post on the Hicks Surname Forum on Genforum by Kitty Steele Barrera dated October 2006 in which she wrote, “I know that the Nancy Hicks/Bailey Wood connection is tentative because I was the first to make the connection. I posted “Bailey Wood married Nancy Hicks?” and before long, it was all over the internet as a fact.26 Kitty mentioned in another message in the same forum that she can be blamed for starting the rumor and the Hicks part is pure speculation.

It is pure speculation that Bailey’s wife Nancy was born Nancy HICKS.

Bailey and Nancy’s son William WOOD was my 4th great-grandfather. No record has been found indicating he had a middle initial or a middle name. As with his mother’s maiden name, William has also been given Hicks as a middle name by some unknown person and the mistake has been copied into hundreds of family trees.

The internet is an amazing tool for genealogy research however misinformation grows quickly and is widely spread. In hopes that this post will help clear up some of the misconceptions and encourage descendants of Bailey and Nancy WOOD to find the records to push back another generation.

© 2020, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Otis K. Rice, A History of Greenbrier County, Lewisburg, W. Va. : Greenbrier Historical Society, 1986, page 193. 
  2. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch (Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1969; 34 microfilm reels; 35 mm), Film 589502, DGS 8219401, Deed book, v. N 1840-1846, pages 187-189, image 124+125 of 411. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1826 Bailey Wood heirs to John Alderson deed of bargain and sale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSGX-491G-C?i=123&cat=98998 : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  3. Monroe County (West Virginia) County Assessor, “Land book, 1799-1900” (manuscript on film, browse-only images), FamilySearch (Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1968; 12 microfilm reels, 35 mm). Citing microfilm of original records at the State Auditor’s Office, Charleston. (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/60462?availability=Family%20History%20Library : accessed 5 January 2020). 
  4. 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, Greenbrier County, 10 March 1789, Susannah Wood and Richard Scags married by John Alderson. 1789 Marriage Record (right page, 7th entry from bottom). Note: bride indexed as Ward and image could be Ward or Wood. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10975982&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  5. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800, William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw, permission slip from her parents. “June /newline/ Sir, this coms (sic) to let you now (sic) that I Marten and Marget Mcgraw is wiling that William Wood should have our daughter Mary Ann /newline/ To John Hutchason (Clerk) /newline/ The above was sworn to by John Wood one of the witnesses present.” 1800 Marriage Permission Slip. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370465&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  6. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, Marriage Bond dated 18 June 1800 for the marriage of William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw. “Marriage Bond #39 William Wood and John Wood went bond on the marriage of William Wood and Mary Anne McGraw (both of Monroe) on 18 June 1800 in Monroe County, Virginia.” 1800 Marriage Bond (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11370480&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  7. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 18 June 1800 William Wood and Mary Ann McGraw married by John Alderson. 1800 Marriage Record entry (right page, 1st entry under Alderson). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369625&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  8. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 3 May 1806, Nancy Wood and Martin McGraw married by John Alderson, banns were published. 1806 Marriage Record (right page, 4th entry from bottom). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369727&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  9. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969,” Film 589504, DGS 8219402, Deed book, v. P-Q 1846-1852, pages 487-490, image 686+687 of 743. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1841 John Skaggs heirs to Joshua Ellis deed of bargain and sale. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSGX-49SY-L?cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  10. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project, West Virginia, Monroe County, 17 April 1810, James Wood and James M. Condon went bond for the marriage of James Wood to Mary Halstead. 1810 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11371453&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  11. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 26 April 1810, James Wood and Mary Halstead by John Alderson. 1810 Application for the marriage license. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369951&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  12. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 26 April 1810, James Wood and Mary Halstead married by John Alderson. 1810 Marriage Record entry (right page, last entry). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369380&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  13. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, marriage bond dated 19 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Bailey Wood went bond on the marriage of Bailey’s daughter Elizabeth Wood and Samuel McGraw. 1812 Marriage Bond. (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11371819&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  14. Ibid., West Virginia, Monroe County, 28 May 1812, Samuel McGraw and Elizabeth Wood married by John Alderson. 1812 Marriage Record entry (right page, 6th entry). (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=11369509&Type=Marriage : accessed 2 January 2020). 
  15. 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, Year: 1850; Census Place: District 14, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M432_943; Page: 336B; Image: 278. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  16. 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, Year: 1860; Census Place: District 3, Fayette, Virginia; Roll: M653_1344; Page: 373; Family History Library Film: 805344. (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  17. “Land Office/Northern Neck Patents & Grants” (index and images from microfilm), Virginia State Land Office, Grants A-Z, 1-124, reels 42-190; Virginia State Land Office, Grants 125- , reels 369-. The collection is housed in the Archives at the Library of Virginia, Library of Virginia Archives, https://www.lva.virginia.gov/ (Records on Library of Virginia site accessible through the new Collections Discovery System https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/discovery/search?vid=01LVA_INST:01LVA&lang=en), Land Office Grants No. 18, 1788-1789, p. 269 (Reel 84). Wood, Bailey Land grant 31 July 1788, 450 acres on the south side of Greenbrier River adjoining the land or James Givin and the land of Mathias Keen.(https://lva.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01LVA_INST/18mtacj/alma990008443800205756 : accessed 24 April 2013). 
  18. County Clerk of the County Court, Monroe County (West Virginia), “Deed book, 1789-1901” and “Deed index, 1789-1969,” Film 589348, GDS 8152873, Deed book, v. A 1789-1805, pages 280-281, image 369+370 of 463. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1803 Bailey Wood to William Graham 127a. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-23MT-F?i=368&cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  19. Ibid., Film 589348, GDS 8152873, Deed book, v. A 1789-1805, pages 330-331, image 394+395 of 463. Citing microfilm of original records at the Monroe County courthouse, Union. 1804 Bailey Wood and Nancy to Robert Gwinn 323a.(https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKV-23M5-S?i=393&cat=98998 : accessed 1 January 2020). 
  20. Journal of the Greenbrier Historial Society, page 92. Greenbrier Historical Society, Lewisburg, West Virginia (a yearly publication, year unknown). (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 2 August 2017, courtesy of Kitty Steele Barrera) 
  21. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 204A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 388. Richard Skaggs household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  22. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 205A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 389. William Wood and Bailey Wood households (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  23. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Nicholas, Virginia; Page: 204; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 387. Martin McGraw household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  24. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Union, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 188; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 227. James Wood household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  25. Ibid., 1820 US Census; Census Place: Peterstown, Monroe, Virginia; Page: 179; NARA Roll: M33_133; Image: 218. Samuel McGraw household (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 8 January 2020). 
  26. Kitty Steele, “Re: Bailey Woods and Nancy Hicks,” Hicks Surname Forum, 29 October 2006, message 9940, Genealogy.com, GenForum (https://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/hicks/9940/ : accessed 1/1/2020) 

The 1866 Fayette County, West Virginia Voter List

My friend and follower Brian S. Miller called me the record whisperer. His comment reminded me I hadn’t been checking the catalog at FamilySearch to see if new old records were available to view online. I’d been too busy working on my last series of posts on a Luxembourgish family to even think about other things.

Half of my ancestry is Luxembourgish with a few more distant ancestors coming from areas of France, Germany, and Belgium which were once part of Luxembourg. It hasn’t been difficult to find birth, marriage, and death records for these ancestors and their collaterals. My paternal side of the family tree which includes ancestors who lived in West Virginia and old Virginia for more than 200 years has been more arduous.

I have a frustrating brick wall at the 2nd great-grandfather level for one of these West Virginia ancestors. Compared to the rest of my tree, his branch is short and stubby!

A Reminder to Check the FamilySearch Catalog

Fayette County, West Virginia, is the first location I usually check for new collections as my Dad and many of his ancestors lived in the county even before its formation in 1831.

Map of West Virginia highlighting Fayette County

On Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I discovered a database I had not seen or been able to access. I can’t keep a secret when it comes to new collections which may help others. I immediately posted the find to the Facebook group for Fayette County West Virginia Genealogy.

Did your male ancestor live in Sewell Mountain, Mountain Cove, or Fayetteville in April-May 1866? If he was of age, he may have registered to vote. I found these lists on FamilySearch which include the age and place of birth of the person of interest.

Being a long-time user of the FamilySearch, I posted the link to the catalog not realizing how many group members were not familiar with this important tool on the site.

After several members commented the link was not working I revised my post. It was a long weekend and traffic to several genealogy sites was higher than normal causing temporary this site can’t be reached errors.

Screenshot of FamilySearch page with Evernote annotations.

In my revised post, I included instructions to scroll down to the camera to view the images to the non-indexed browse-only records. I added a short description of the collection which has six items for three districts with the names of voters being listed in alphabetical order. I also let new users know they needed to sign-in to the FREE site.

The 1866 Fayette County, West Virginia, Voter List

Here is the link to the collection: Register of name of voters : 1866. Since not all are familiar with FamilySearch or some may need a refresher course on using the site, here are simple steps to view the images. The link will take you to this page:

You aren’t there yet! To see all images, you need to either use the little > to go to image 2 of 154, image 3 of 154, etc. or click on the tiles icon on the left to view all images. You can then click on any of the images you might be interested in.

The items in this collection have many blank images. An item starts at the Begin image and ends at the End image. After studying the six items I learned they are for three districts – two similar copies of the same information for each district. At the end is a seventh item for the year 1867. Below are the direct links to the first page of each item for a district.

Item 1: Sewell Mountain 1

Item 2: Mountain Cove 1

Item 3: Fayetteville 1

Item 4: Sewell Mountain 2

Item 5: Fayetteville 2

Item 6: Mountain Cove 2

Item 7: Fayetteville 1867

Why is this set of records important?

Consider when the voter list was created. In 1866, three years after the state of West Virginia was formed. Immediately following the Civil War period when many records were moved to other locations or missing.

The fields on the form include:

  • Names of persons registered
  • Whether Sworn
  • Age – includes men between 21 and 84 years of age, i.e. born 1782-1845
  • Place of birth
  • Time of residence in ward, township, or district
  • Time of residence in state
  • If naturalized, date of papers and by what Court issued [in some cases this field was used to record honorable discharges from US militia service]
  • When registered

The list may be the only record you will find for the place of birth of an ancestor born between 1782-1845. Example: Enoch WOOD was in Lawrence County, Ohio, in 1830; in Gallia County, Ohio, in 1840; and in Fayette County, Virginia, in 1850 per the census. The 1850 census had all of his children listed as born in Virginia. Enoch and his wife Margaret JOHNSON had been known to be members of the Sand Fork Missionary Baptist Church in Gallia County, Ohio, before transferring to the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Fayette County. Their sons Levi and Felix WOOD are on the voter list with Gallia County as their place of birth.

Are you searching for naturalization papers? Example: Daniel McGuffin, age 36, born in Ireland, was naturalized in 1855 and his papers were filed in the County Court of Alleghany, Virginia.

The voter list could help you add events to your ancestor’s timeline. When and where was he born? Did he serve in the US militia? Was he naturalized? The voter list may be the last record your ancestor created before leaving the county or passing away.

And the search continues…

My 2nd great-grandfather William A. W. DEMPSEY was NOT found in the voter list. Family tradition is he died in a logging accident in the 1860s. Does this mean he died before April-May 1866 when the voter list was created? Perhaps. However,  the three districts didn’t cover the entire county of Fayette. Other names are missing from the voter list including William’s father-in-law Elijah WOOD who died in 1885.

If you haven’t recently checked the catalog at FamilySearch take a moment to do so. If you’ve never used the catalog an Introduction to the FamilySearch Catalog is a good place to learn more.  Please leave a comment if you make a discovery. Happy hunting.

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

Rewriting the Biography: A Darling Little Boy

Rewriting the Biography has become a catch-all for not only the biography of my 5th great-grandfather James SIMS (1754-1845) but also his children and their descendants. I took a break from working on this series after doing the census work and posts for his sixteen children.

While I was working on these last year, Patricia Simms Williams shared this lovely tribute written by her grandfather following the death of one of his children. The Genealogy Sketch box puts this family in perspective to James SIMS, Patricia, and myself.

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Charles Edward SIMMS
Parents: William Thomas SIMS and Mary Catherine WILLIAMS
Spouse: Lydia Ellen WILLIAMS and Cora Estella HURLEY (*)
Children: Ophelia Virginia, Chusvert, Laura, Cecil James, Charles Erman, Carman, Claude, and Cluster Erwin
Whereabouts: West Virginia counties: Fayette, Nicholas, Braxton, and Greenbrier
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey: 3rd cousin 3 times removed

1. James SIMS and his wife Phebe
2. Martin SIMS and Susannah JOHNSON
3. Nelson SIMS and Nancy JONES
4. William Thomas SIMS and Mary Catherine WILLIAMS
5. Charles Edward SIMMS and Cora Estella HURLEY
6. Charles Erman SIMMS and Nina Mae MILES
7. Patricia Ann SIMMS

Charles Edward SIMMS was born in 1866 to William Thomas SIMS and Mary Catherine WILLIAMS. His father died in 1870 and his mother remarried in 1872. He had two siblings and 5 half-siblings.

Charles married his first wife Lydia Ellen WILLIAMS in 1887. She gave him two sons and a daughter before her death. Charles married again in 1896 to Cora Estella HURLEY.

By 1900 the two sons from his first marriage had died and his household included his wife Cora, his daughters Ophelia from his first marriage and Laura B. from his second marriage. Cora was listed as the mother of two children, one living. This would mean Charles had lost three children by 1900.

In 1902 a son was born to Charles and Cora. No record of birth has been found for him nor a record of his death in September 1905. His name and years of birth and death have been passed down in the family history. Cecil James SIMMS died after his father came in contact with measles while stopping off at a neighbor’s house.

This is his recollection and tribute to his son. The scans of the pages with the handwritten poem did not include a title. I’ve taken the liberty to give it this title.

A Darling Little Boy

Returning once unto my home
Along a muddy way
The path that through the fields did come
I took that fatal day.

Near by a neighbor farmhouse stood
I, weary, sad, thought best
to stop with them partake of food
and gain a little rest.

Fate lays her hand in silent state
Unwarned on all of earth
Regardless of the small or great,
Or those of noble birth

Fate, silent stroke here fell on me
I, measles did inhale,
The bellows of life troubled sea
Rose by the stirring gale.

There was a flower in my home,
A darling little boy;
No dearer object there could come,
This precious little toy.

I used to take my darling son
When near the close of day
The busy cares then being done
And sing in joyful lay.

“I never will cease to love him
My, Jimmy, my Jimmy!
I will never cease to love him
He’s done so much for me.”

But when the sickness seized this flower,
It drooping, withered, died
We strove to save it from that power;
It perished by our side.

We sadly laid him in the grave
To wait that coming day;
And trusting Jesus power to save,
Our heats will ever say:

One by one the Savior gathers,
choicest flowers rich, and rare,
He’ll transplant them in his garden,
They will bloom forever there.

Charles Edward Simms (1866-1936)

This poem conveys Charles’ feelings, his love for his son Jimmy, and the sadness of losing him. It was written like a hymn which is not unusual as Charles was a preacher and teacher. In the years which followed Charles was also a manager for Singer sewing machines as well as a jewelry shop owner.

Following the death of his only living son in 1905, Charles’ wife Cora gave him four more sons. Charles, Carman, Claude, and Cluster. Claude died of influenza in 1918 during the epidemic at the age of 4 years and 15 days. Charles and Cora’s daughter Laura had died the previous year. Patricia wrote:

Laura was not married to Joseph Edward Bruffey, the father of her son Joseph Eugene Bruffey. For some reason, Laura’s mother Cora didn’t want her to get married. Laura had polio as a child, childbirth was hard for her and she died the following day after giving birth to Joseph Eugene. The Bruffey’s wanted to raise the baby but grandma Cora refused to let them.

After all of these losses in Charles’ family, his children Ophelia, Charles, Carman, and Cluster lived long lives. Ophelia lived to be 82, Charles 69, Carman 70, and Cluster 93.

When Patricia shared the scans of the poem with me, she wrote:

It should be shared with someone who will take care of it after I’m gone.
By featuring it here, I hope it will not be lost to future generations interested in our SIMS ancestry.
© 2019, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

Rewriting the Biography: George Washington “Wash” SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

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

George Washington SIMS was the youngest of James SIMS’ sixteen children, the baby of the family he had with his second wife Elizabeth COTTON. George, also known as Wash, was born about 1821 in Nicholas County.

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

By 1830 his four oldest full siblings were married and living on their own. He was living at home with a sister Jane who would marry the following year and two brothers, Charles and Dryden. Also in the household were five slaves. Isaac SIMS (ca. 1793-1875) who would be manumitted by George’s father James in 1836 was likely the male age 24 thru 35.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for James SIMS

1830 U.S. Federal Census 1
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

George was about 19 years old when the 1840 census was enumerated. As the youngest of James’ children, he may have still been living at home. His parents had taken in two children, likely their deceased daughter Sarah’s children.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James SIMS

1840 U.S. Federal Census2
Nicholas County, Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: James Sims Sr.
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (poss. Charles, son of Sarah)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (poss. James, son of Sarah)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 80 thru 89: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1 (unknown)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons – Under 20: 3
Total Free White Persons: 5
Total Slaves: 1
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

Another possible location for George at the time of the census was the household of his brother Charles who was just across the county line in Fayette County. As James SIMS’ property spanned both Nicholas and Fayette at that time, Charles was probably living on his father’s land. Being young and unmarried George could have been helping both his aged father and his brother Charles who was also unmarried.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Charles SIMS

1840 U.S. Federal Census3
Fayette County, Virginia
Sheet 147, Line 6
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Charles Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2 (Charles and George?)
Slaves – Males – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 2
Total Slaves: 2
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 4

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

On 28 November 1845 George W. SIMS applied for a bond to marry Margaret J. DORSEY in Nicholas County. He went the bond with James DORSEY Jr. who made oath the bride was of age.4

Although they married in Nicholas County, their residence was in Fayette County in 1850 when they had two children, a son George W. and a daughter Edna P. M., in the home.

There are several discrepancies on the census sheet. Margaret is seen as Mary J., their oldest child George W. is incorrectly listed as 29 years old, and no occupation or value of real estate owned was given.

George’s immediate neighbors were his brother Charles, several of his nephews (sons of his half-brothers William and Martin), and his half-brother Martin.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for the George W. SIMS household

1850 U.S. Federal Census5
Fayette County, Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated by me on the 1st day of August, 1850. T. B. Hamilton, Ass’t Marshal.
Sheet No. 343A, Lines 36-39, HH #173-173
George W. Sims 29 M Virginia
Mary (sic) J. Sims 29 F Virginia
G. W. Sims 29 (sic, 3) M Virginia
Edny P. M. Sims 1 F Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

During the 1850s Margaret had another four or five children. Victoria (9) and Elizabeth (7) are seen in the household. An unnamed male child was born on 3 September 1855 and likely died before 1860 as he is not reflected in this listing. Another son John L. N. was born about December 1856 and died on 13 April 1858. A one-year-old female is seen without a name, only ditto marks on the sheet. The census was enumerated on August 4, two weeks after a daughter named Margaret Jane was born. Maggie, as she would be known, was born on 22 July 1860. Is she the unnamed child in the 1860 census? Or did the enumerator follow directions to not include any children born after June 1? Or was there another unnamed female child born about 1859?

George who was farming had no real estate of value and his personal estate was valued at $200.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for the Washington SIMS household

1860 U.S. Federal Census6
Fayette County, Virginia
District No. 1
Enumerated by me on the 4th day of August, 1860. P. Morton, Ass’t Marshal.
Gauley Bridge Post Office, Sheet No. 290
Page No. 108, Lines 20-26, HH #800-734
Washington Sims 38 M Farmer $0 $200 Virginia
Margaret Sims 40 F Virginia
George W. Sims 13 M Virginia
Edna Sims 11 F Virginia
Victoria Sims 9 F Virginia
Elizabeth Sims 7 F Virginia
” (ditto) ” (ditto) 1 F Virginia

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

George’s wife Margaret died between 22 July 1860 (after Maggie’s birth) and 29 January 1863 when George married Mary Jane JOHNSON in Nicholas County. He was the only child of James SIMS to have his parents’ names mentioned on a marriage record although the maiden name of his mother was not included, only James & Elizabeth. The names of the parents of Mary Jane who was 23 were not stated on the marriage record.7

George R. Penick, Jr. wrote in his compilation on James SIMS and his descendants that George Washington SIMS’ second wife, Mary Jane JOHNSON, was a sister to the brothers John and William JOHNSON who married George’s half-sisters Elizabeth and Nancy Ann SIMS. This cannot be correct as Mary Jane was born between 1840-1843 which was long after the 1805 death of William JOHNSON Sr., father of these men. Neither John nor William could be the father of Mary Jane as their daughters are accounted for. John’s son Harrison had a daughter Mary b. ca. 1842 and William’s son Joseph Nelson had a daughter Mary A. b. ca. 1841. Marriages have been found for both of these girls and they are listed with their families in 1860. John and William had a brother James who died in 1834 but none of his sons’ daughters are matches. I do not see the possibility of Mary Jane being closely related to John and William JOHNSON. There were other Johnson families in the Kanawha-Nicholas-Fayette area as well as in Greenbrier which bordered on Fayette.

The candidate remaining was Mary J. JOHNSON age 18 in the household of Elizabeth McVEY (maiden name KOONTZ) in the Mountain Cove district of Fayette County in 1860. Further research would be necessary to prove or disprove this as well as to find her parents.

By 1870 Mary Jane had given birth to three children. The youngest, only one month old, was mistakenly noted as a female. In 1880 the child would be seen as William T. age 10 and, later in 1900, his month and year of birth would be May 1870 which fell within the census year, i.e. he would be the “female” child on the 1870 census. Only three of George’s children from his first marriage were still at home: Victoria, Elizabeth, and Margaret. His two oldest children George W. and Edna P. M. have not been found in 1870 or any later census. No marriage or death records have been found and I suspect they may have died in the 1860s.

The family was now in Nicholas County. George was farming and his real estate was valued at $600 and his personal property at $450. Living next door was Isaac SIMS, the first black man to own property in Nicholas County. The tract he owned bordered on the land originally owned by James SIMS.

1870 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, West Virginia for the George W. SIMS household

1870 U.S. Federal Census8
Nicholas County, West Virginia
Jefferson Township, Page No. 1
Enumerated by me on the 22nd day of July, 1870. Patrick D. Horan, Ass’t Marshal.
Nicholas Court House Post Office
Sheet No. 163A, Lines 5-12, HH #2-2
Sims, George W. 49 M W Farmer $600 $450 West Virginia male US citizen over 21 yo
Sims, Mary J. 27 F W West Virginia
Sims, Victoria 18 F W At Home West Virginia
Sims, Elizabeth H. 15 F W At Home West Virginia attended school
Sims, Margaret J. 9 F W West Virginia
Sims, Ulysses G. 6 M W West Virginia
Sims, Minna 4 F W West Virginia
Sims, Not named 1/12 F W West Virginia
Sheet No. 163A, Line 13, HH #3-3
Sims, Isaac 72 M Mulatto Farmer $500 $400 cannot read & write West Virginia male US citizen over 21 yo
Note: Isaac Sims, the freed slave of James Sims, father of George W. Sims.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census

During the 1870s George’s three daughters from his first marriage were married. Victoria Veazy SIMS married William Henry SUMMERS soon after the 1870 census and they had four children by 1880. Margaret Jane SIMS married John Wesley MARTIN on 9 January 1878. They had one daughter and were living with his parents in 1880. Elizabeth Honor SIMS married William Henry MARTIN on 19 April 1878 and they were the parents of a son and daughter by 1880. The MARTIN men were not brothers and I have not done research on the line to determine if or how they may have been related.

Mary Jane and George had four more children by 1880. Irvin Evermont, Joseph Wyatt, Cora Anna, and Oleona G. who was also known as Ola. They were still in the Jefferson district of Nicholas County where George was farming.

1880 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, West Virginia for the George W. SIMS household

1880 U.S. Federal Census9
Nicholas County, West Virginia
Jefferson Township
Enumeration District No. 105
Enumerated by me on the 10th day of June, 1880. W. M. Walker, enumerator.
Page No. 11, Sheet No. 101C, Lines 8-16, HH #79-79
Sims, George W. W M 59 married Farmer WV VA VA
Sims, Mary J. W F 40 wife married Keeping house WV WV VA
Sims, Ulyssius S. W M 15 son single Works on farm attended school WV WV WV
Sims, Minnie M. W F 12 daughter single At home attended school cannot write WV WV WV
Sims, William T. W M 10 son single attended school cannot write WV WV WV
Sims, Irvin E. W M 8 son single attended school WV WV WV
Sims, Joseph W. W M 6 son single WV WV WV
Sims, Anna W F 3 daughter single WV WV WV
Sims, Oleona W F 2 daughter single WV WV WV

The Widow in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Census

When the 1900 census was enumerated, Mary J. SIMMS was seen as widowed. George had died between 1880 and 1900. No records have been found to more precisely date his death. Mary Jane was now living in the town of Ansted in the Mountain Cove district of Fayette County, the same area a younger Mary J. JOHNSON had been found in 1860 in the McVEY household. Mary Jane was 65 years old, about 5 to 6 years older than seen earlier. She had in her household her youngest son Joseph Wyatt a coal miner who had been out of work for three months during the year.

1900 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, West Virginia for the Mary J. SIMMS household

1900 U.S. Federal Census10
Fayette County, West Virginia
Mountain Cove District, Ansted
Enumeration District No. 17
Enumerated by me on the 1 day of June 1900. Geo M. Koontz, enumerator.
Sheet No. 1A, Lines 44-45, HH #7-7
Simms, Mary J. head W F May 1835 65 widowed mother of 7, 7 living WV WV WV can read cannot write speaks English rents house
Simms, Joseph son W M Oct 1875 24 single WV VA WV coal miner unemployed 3 months in 1899 can read & write speaks English

Mary Jane was still in Ansted in 1910 but now alone and living off her own income. Her age was now 69 and agrees with earlier census listings. As in 1900, the seven children she had were still living. Mary Jane was not found in the 1920 census and it is assumed she died between 1910 and 1920. No record of death has been found.

1910 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, West Virginia for Mary J. SIMS

1910 U.S. Federal Census11
Fayette County, West Virginia
Mountain Cove District, Precinct 1, Ansted Town
Enumeration District No. 19
Enumerated by me on the 10th day of May, 1910. Wm. T. Hamilton
Sheet No. 28A, Line 9, HH #500-505
Sims, Mary J. head F W 69 widowed mother of 7, 7 living WV WV VA speaks English own income can read & write rents house

George’s Children from 1900 to 1961

Only three of the children George had with his first wife Margaret Jane DORSEY were found to have survived to adulthood, marry, and have children. If his two oldest children George W. and Edna P. M. moved to other parts, married, and had descendants, I would be happy to hear about them.

Victoria Veazy SIMS (1852-1928) had five more children after 1880 bringing the total children to nine. In 1900 she had eight children living as one of her children had died at the age of 2 years in 1894. By 1910 the number of living children went down by one as her oldest child died in 1905. She lost her husband in 1927 and died the following year in Huntington, Cabell County, West Virginia.

Elizabeth Honor SIMS (1853-bef. 1920) had four more children after 1880 bringing the total children to six. Her oldest child died before 1900. She likely died between 1910 and 1920 as her husband was listed as widowed on the 1920 census. He died in 1933 in Montgomery (Fayette County) where he had been living.

Margaret Jane “Maggie” SIMS (1860-1949) had four more daughters after 1880 bringing the total to five daughters born to her and her husband John Wesley MARTIN. He died between 1891-1899. Maggie then married Patrick BEIRNE on 4 January 1900 in Montgomery, Fayette County. The marriage was recorded in Kanawha County. Patrick was from Northern Ireland and Catholic. The SIMS family members attended the Methodist Episcopal church and were not Catholic. Maggie and Patrick were found in Fayette County in 1900 (after much searching!) with two of his children from his first marriage and her four youngest daughters. The couple was incorrectly listed as having been married 29 years and Maggie’s age was seen as 59 instead of 40. Maggie’s daughters were listed with their step-father’s surname which was indexed as Burns. In 1904 Maggie had a son Meredith James BEIRNE. By 1910 Maggie and Patrick were both listed as having been married 10 years and second marriages for both of them. The three oldest living MARTIN daughters (Nancy born in 1880 may have died before 1900) married in 1904-1906. Patrick died in 1914. Maggie lived in Charleston with her daughter Virgie Lee’s family in 1920 and 1940 and with her daughter Edith’s family in 1930. She died in 1949 in Charleston (Kanawha County).

All of the seven children George had with Mary Jane JOHNSON survived into adulthood.

Anthony Ulysses Grant SIMS (1865-1931) was found under this name in the 1900 through 1930 census. He used the alias James G. SYMMES when he enlisted the U.S. Army on 11 June 1888 in Ohio. He was a real estate agent at the time and 23 years old. He had blue eyes, light hair, fair complexion, and was 5 foot 8 inches tall. He served with Company A & K of the 7th Calvary. He was discharged 10 June 1893 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He re-enlisted on 11 June 1893 and was discharged on 10 May 1895. He apparently had a medical background as in 1900 he was an attendant at the Illinois Northern Hospital for the Insane in Kane County, Illinois; an attendant at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Chicago in 1910; and an orderly at the same in 1920. In 1927 he applied for a pension under his alias for his service during the Indian wars. In 1930 he was lodging at a hotel in Chicago and working as a guard at the U.S.V. Bureau. In 1931 he was back in West Virginia living with his sister Cora Anna who was the informant on his death record. She gave his occupation as a chemist. The 1931 death certificate included his alias which led to the military and pension records. He was never married per George R. Penick Jr. (compiler of a family history) and, although seen as single on his death record and most census records, he was listed as widowed in 1920.

Minna M. SIMS (1866-1934) married Frank E. FELTON and likely never had children. She has not been found in 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930 census but was listed in the city directory of Huntington (Cabell County, West Virginia) in 1932 (widow Carsile) and 1934 (widow F. E.), living at the same address as her sister Cora Anna. It was this sister who was the informant on her death record in 1934. According to Penick, Minnie may have married or lived in Pennsylvania.

William T. SIMS (1870-aft. Apr 1940) married Virginia YOUNG in 1895 in Fayette County where William lived from 1900 to 1940. Jennie, as she was also known, gave him four daughters and a son. She died before 1920. Two of the girls have not been located in 1920 or later and may have also died in the 1910s. The other two daughters married but died in 1922 and 1925. The son died in an automobile accident at the age of 18 in 1927. In 1930 William was found with his sister-in-law Ethel CLAYPOOL, widow of his brother Irvin, and by himself in 1940. His death record has not been located.

Irvin Evermont SIMS (1872-1929) married Ethel CLAYPOOL in 1899. They were the parents of one daughter Lillian Eleanor (1899-1993) who never married or had children. Irvin and Ethel lived in Fayette County where Irvin died in 1929. In 1940 Ethel and her daughter were living in Charleston where Ethel died in 1961.

Joseph Wyatt SIMMS (1874-1942) was living with his mother Mary Jane JOHNSON in 1900. In 1905 he married Rosa MULLINS with whom he had a son in 1908. The marriage did not last. Rosa and their son were living with her parents in 1910. She married two more times. Joseph Wyatt was not found in 1910, 1920, or 1930. His son who never married died in 1938 at the age of 30. In 1940 Joseph was living in Nicholas County with the family of his double cousin (1C1R and 1C2R) Homer Holt SIMMS. Joseph died in 1942 in Huntington (Cabell County) of injuries sustained when he, a pedestrian, was hit by an automobile. Once again Cora Anna was the informant on the death certificate of a sibling.

Cora Anna SIMS (1876-1951) married Hugh T. PRIBBLE in 1900 in Fayette County. They were the parents of three children. They lived in Fayette County in 1900 and 1910. By 1920 they had moved to Huntington. The marriage ended in divorce and Cora Anna was found with her two single sons and her married daughter in 1930. In 1940 Cora Anna was the head of household. Her daughter and her second husband, as well as the daughter’s son from her first marriage, were living with her. Cora Anna died in 1951 at the same address in Huntington as she had been living since 1930. She had been the informant on three of her six siblings’ death certificates which would suggest a close connection to them.

Oleona G. “Ola” SIMS (1878-1961) married Weston Edward STEVENS in 1902 in Fayetteville. They were the parents of eight children, one of whom died at the age of nearly 1 1/2 years. They lived in the Falls district of Fayette County in 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940. Weston died the end of 1940. Ola was living in Huntington in 1961 when she died.

This post concludes the census study of the children of James SIMS (1754-1845). The census research has been a great amount of work since the first post in March. I’ll be taking a break from this project for a few months. I have no fixed plans or schedule for upcoming posts but hope to bring a bit of variety to the blog.

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

Rewriting the Biography: George Washington

  1. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  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 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 26+27 of 67, page 10, line 8, James Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  3. Ibid., FHL Film 0029685, NARA Roll M704_555, Virginia, Fayette page 147A+B, line 6, Charles Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  4. Neva Jane Stout Bryant, (abstracted and compiled by), SIMMS/SIMS Marriages, Nicholas County, West Virginia 1817-1933, (abstracted from James S. & Evelyn E., Early Nicholas County (West) Virginia Marriage Bonds (& Records) 1818-1864; Cochran, Nicholas Co WV Marriages 1817-1903; Cochran, Nicholas Co. WV Marriages 1903-1933). George W. Sims, applied for a bond to marry Margaret J. Dorsey, 11-28-1845 in Nicholas Co. (W)VA. George W. Sims and James Dorsey Jr. went the bond. James Dorsey made oath that the bride was of age. 
  5. 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_943; Images: 291; Virginia, Fayette, District 14, image 27 of 91, Sheet No. 343A, Lines 36-39, HH #173-173, George W. Sims household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2018). 
  6. 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_1344; FHL Film: 805344; West Virginia, Fayette County, District 1; image 2 of 26, Sheet No. 290, Page No. 108, Lines 20-26, HH #800-734, Washington Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2018). 
  7. Abstracts of marriage records by Neva Bryant. Simms, Washington, Widow, 39, b. Nicholas, res. Fayette, s/o James & Elizabeth to Johnson, Mary Jane, 23, Fayette, parents not stated — 29 Jan 1863. 
  8. 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_1695; FHL Film: 553194; West Virginia, Nicholas, Jefferson, image 1 of 17, Page No. 1, Sheet No. 163A, Lines 5-12, HH #2-2, George W. Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed accessed 29 April 2018). 
  9. 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: 1410; West Virginia, Nicholas County, Jefferson, image 11 of 17, Enumeration District No. 105, Page No. 11, Sheet No. 101C, Lines 8-16, HH #79-79, George W. Sims household. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 December 2016). 
  10. 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: 1241758; West Virginia, Fayette County, Mountain Cove, image 1 of 50, Enumeration District No. 17, Sheet No. 1A, Lines 44-45, HH #7-7, Mary J. Simms household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 September 2018). 
  11.  1910 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls, Roll: T624_1680; FHL microfilm: 1375693; West Virginia, Fayette, Mountain Cove, image 53 of 53, Enumeration District No. 19, Sheet No. 28A, Line 9, HH #500-505 Mary J. Sims household. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 September 2018). 

Rewriting the Biography: Dryden SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

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

James SIMS was the father of sixteen known children. Eight of them were born during his marriage to his first wife Phebe. Following her tragic death the winter of 1793/1794 he married Elizabeth COTTON in 1796. With Elizabeth he also had eight children. The second youngest was their son Dryden who was born about 1818, the year Nicholas County was formed from Kanawha County.

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

In 1820 Dryden was in the household of his father James SIMS. At the time he was James’ youngest child. However he may not have been the youngest person in the household as there were also nine enslaved persons with five of these being in the under 14 years category.

1820 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for James SIMS

1820 U.S. Federal Census 1
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 19
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Dryden and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Jane and Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret and Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 2 (Isaac and Robert)
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25: 2 (Black Jude and Black Fanny)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 17

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

In 1830 Dryden was about twelve years old and should have been enumerated in the 10 thru 14 years category. The census, however, shows his age was 15 thru 19 years. A younger brother had been born during the 1820s and Dryden was no longer the youngest.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for James SIMS

1830 U.S. Federal Census 2
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth 46-49)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

Dryden SIMS married Rebecca BAYS, daughter of Thomas BAYS and Nancy Ann LINEGAR. Rebecca was born in Giles County, Virginia, on 28 November 1819. The marriage took place in Fayette County on 18 October 1837.3 Records of birth and marriage have not been found to confirm these dates. Rebecca may have been born in a part of Giles County which became Fayette County.  A part of Giles went to Logan when the county was formed in 1824 and a part of Logan became Fayette County in 1831. Thomas BAYS was enumerated in Logan in 1830 and in Fayette from 1840 until 1860.

Dryden and Rebecca had one son born following their marriage and before the 1840 census. Dryden had several other children in his household. As all of the census listings of the children of his father James SIMS have been worked through, I have made this assumption concerning these extra children. Two of the orphaned children of Dryden’s sister Sarah may have been taken in by him and his wife, namely Mariah FOSTER and James FOSTER who did not fit in any other SIMS household.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for Dryden SIMS

1840 U.S. Federal Census4
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 9, Line 30
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Dryden Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (Alfred)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (not a son, may be Sarah’s son James)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Dryden)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (not a daughter)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (not a daughter, may be Sarah’s daughter Mariah)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Rebecca)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 6

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

During the 1840s Dryden and Rebecca had four more sons. Dryden was a farmer but did not own land. In his household was a single man named Paschal HENDRICK (ca. 1816-1883) who owned land. Were Dryden and his family living on and working his land?

Next door to Dryden was his nephew Jonathan SIMS, son of his half-brother William, and in the next household was his sister Jane SIMS, wife of Joseph DARLINGTON.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for Dryden SIMS

1850 U.S. Federal Census5
Nicholas County, Virginia
The 43rd District
Sheet No. 371A, Line 23-29, HH #412-412
Dryden Sims 32 M W Farmer Virginia
Rebecca Sims 30 F W Virginia
Alfred Sims 11 M W Virginia
William Sims 8 M W Virginia
Andrew Sims 6 M W Virginia
Alexander Sims 3 M W Virginia
Thos Sims 8/12 M W Virginia
Pascal Hendrick 34 M W Farmer $400 Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

Dryden and Rebecca lost their son Thomas born in 1849 during the 1850s. Two daughters and a son were born by the time the 1860 census was taken. The son was only two months and listed as Lenard M., the same name as the head of the next household, Lenard MORRIS. The name of the child appears to be incorrect as will be seen in later census listings. Dryden was still farming and had land valued at $300.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia, for Dryden SIMS household

1860 U.S. Federal Census6
Nicholas County, Virginia
Nicholas District, Nicholas Court House
Sheet No. 1004, Page No. 86, Lines 14-21, HH #770-578
Dryden Sims 42 M W Farmer $300 $400 Virginia
Rebecca Sims 42 F W wife Virginia
William J. Sims 17 M W farmer Virginia
Andrew J. Sims 15 M W farmer Virginia
John Alexander Sims 12 M W Virginia
Mary J. Sims 10 F W Virginia
Nancy E. Sims 6 F W Virginia
Lenard M. Sims 2/12 M W Virginia

Dryden and Rebecca’s oldest son Alfred Hansford SIMS had married his first cousin Mariah FOSTER in January 1858. Mariah, who likely grew up with Alfred, had married Jordan HUDSON in 1846, lived in Missouri for a short time before returning to the Fayette/Nicholas counties area where two children were born before Jordan’s death. Alfred and Mariah’s first child Alfonso Graves was born very close to the date of marriage as his age was given as 63 years when he died in September 1920. He was with Alfred, Mariah, and her two HUDSON children in Nicholas County in 1860.

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

The 1860s brought much change to the family of Dryden SIMS.

The second son William Henry Harrison SIMS married Sabina Hester McCARTY about 1861. The groom was seen in most records as William H. H. however records have been found with the middle names Henry and Harrison which led to the conclusion that he was named after William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) the ninth President of the United States who served the shortest tenure in presidential history to date. The couple had four children by 1870 and was living in Kanawha County.

The third son Andrew Jackson “Jack” SIMS married Virginia A. Sintilla MORRIS in 1865. She was the daughter of Lenard MORRIS, a neighbor in 1860, and seen as Cynthia on that census listing. They had one son and were living next door to William H. H.

The oldest daughter Mary Jane SIMS married Charles Marvin MORRIS in 1866. They had a son and daughter and were living a couple of households away from her oldest brother Alfred. Her husband Charles was the first cousin of Jack’s wife.

The oldest son Alfred Hansford SIMS‘ family had increased to six children. They were living in Nicholas County close to his sister Mary Jane.

Dryden and Rebecca had moved to St. Clair County, Missouri, with their remaining unmarried children before the 1870 census. John Alexander, their fourth son was at home with no occupation listed even though he was 22 years old. Nancy Elizabeth was fourteen and did not attend school unlike her brother Thomas Newton who was attending. Thomas would be the child seen as Lenard M. in the 1860 census obviously named after his deceased brother Thomas who shared the name with their maternal grandfather. Thomas was born 11 April 1860 per his grave marker – a match for the two-month-old son on the 1860 census.

1870 U.S. Federal Census for St. Clair County, Missouri for Dryden SIMS household

1870 U. S. Federal Census7
St. Clair County, Missouri
Chalk Line District
Sheet No. 430B, Page No. 15, Lines, 19-23, HH #101-98
Sims, Dryden 51 M W Farmer Virginia US citizen over 21 yo
Sims, Rebecca 51 F W Keeping house Virginia
Sims, Alexander 22 M W At home Virginia US citizen over 21 yo
Sims, Nancy E. 14 F W Virginia
Sims, Thomas N. 9 M W Virginia attended school within the year (cannot read & write appears to have been struck out)

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Rebecca SIMMS was found in the household of Andrew Jackson KING as the widowed mother-in-law. Andrew had married Dryden’s daughter Nancy Elizabeth about 1878. Dryden SIMS apparently died prior to the enumeration of the 1880 census.

1880 U.S. Federal Census of St. Clair County, Missouri, for A.J. KING household

1880 U.S. Federal Census8
St. Clair County, Missouri
Monegan Township
Supervisor’s District No. 6
Enumeration District No. 229
Enumerated on the 30th day of June 1880 by Charles W. Nesbit
Sheet No. 317C, Page No. 23, Lines 24-28, HH #204-212
King, A. J. W M 21 married Laborer MO TN MO
King, Nancy E. W F 21 wife married Keeping house WV VA VA
King, Mary J. W M 8/12 October daughter MO MO WV
Simms, Rebecca W F 60 mother-in-law widowed WV VA VA
Cook, Joel W M 45 single Justice of Peace disabled IL TN TN
Note: Column for disabled includes: maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled.

Dryden’s oldest son Alfred Hansford died before 1880 if we are to believe the census listing of his wife Mariah who was living in Fayette County with their four youngest children and listed as widowed.

William H. H. was now the father of seven and still living close to his brother Andrew Jackson in Elk District of Kanawha County. Jack was the father of four. Mary Jane was living in Jefferson District of Nicholas County and the mother of five children.

John Alexander who at the age of 22 was without occupation in 1870 likely died in Roscoe, St. Clair County, Missouri on 1 March 1873. Likely because a cemetery listing for the Roscoe Cemetery shows John A. SIMS son of D. and R. died 1 March 1873 at the age of 4 years. I suspect the grave marker may have been difficult to read and the age should be 24 years. The Find A Grave memorial does not include a photo of the marker and birth is listed on the memorial is 27 May 1868. I cannot access the original RootsWeb page which had the cemetery reading for John Sims in the Roscoe Cemetery and cannot trust the unsourced Find A Grave information.

The youngest of Dryden’s children, Thomas Newton SIMS was not located in the 1880 census. Per descendants of this line, he married Margaret Ann BOUDINIER on 15 March 1878 in Appleton City in St. Clair County, Missouri. No known children were born to this couple before the 1880 census.

The Years After the 1880 Census

In The Matter of Dryden SIMMS Estate, J. W. WHEELER named Thomas SIMS and Lizzie KING (daughter of Dryden) as the heirs on 12 May 1881, a full year after the 1880 census in which his wife was listed as a widow. WHEELER was appointed the administrator of the estate as Dryden had not left a will.  There was no mention of the children who had remained in West Virginia when Dryden removed to Missouri in the late 1860s.9

John W. WHEELER was unable to find any property of any character whatever belonging to the estate and it was ordered that he be discharged of his duties on Friday, August 18th, 1882.10

Alfred Hansford SIMS, who appeared to be deceased at the time of the 1880 census turned up in Buchanan County, Virginia when he married Marinda Magdaline VANCE on 1 August 1898. Alfred was 59 and Rinda was 17. They had one son George William SIMS (1899-1942). In June 1901 during the flood on the Dismal River near Whitewood, Virginia, Rinda who was pregnant with her second child went out to grab clothes from the line when a falling tree hit and killed her and her baby. After the Dismal River flood Alfred moved from Buchanan County to Paynesville on top of Bradshaw Mountain in the Sandy River District of McDowell County, West Virginia. He died soon after and was buried in Vance Cemetery at Paynesville. His son was raised by the VANCE grandparents, Alexander and Betty Harmon Vance.11

William H. H. SIMS continued to live in Kanawha County with his wife Sabina with whom he had seven children.

William Henry Harrison SIMS and Sabena Hester McCARTY ca. 1890. Courtesy of Ronald W. HURLEY, 28 January 2002.

This photo of William and Sabena needs to be dated more precisely. Circa 1890 is the year Ron gave when he shared the picture with me over sixteen years ago.

William Henry Harrison SIMS abt. 1920. Courtesy of Ronald W. Hurley, 9 February 2002.

All of William and Sabena’s children married and only one did not have children. After Sabina’s death in 1911, William was found living with his granddaughter Minnie Rebecca VANDAL and her husband John H. ORD in 1920 in Clendenin, Mason County, West Virginia. He died in Kanawha City in 1921 at the age of 78.

Andrew Jackson SIMS, father of four, was widowed in 1887 and remarried twice more. First in 1888 to Celia BROWN. She gave him a son who died in 1890 at the age of 1 year. Celia died the following year. About a year later he married Mary Savannah KEITH who gave him four more children. The two oldest died the same day at the age of 4 and 6 in 1899. Jack died in 1915 at the age of 70 in Clay County where he had lived since his second marriage.

Mary Jane SIMS and Charles Marvin MORRIS were the parents of seven children, six living. Mary Jane was likely divorced from Charles before 1886 when she was seen marrying Ebenezer MILAM. Charles Marvin MORRIS died 31 March 1889; his death was reported by his step-mother Rhoda DARLINGTON, widow of William B. MORRIS and daughter of Dryden’s sister Jane SIMS. Mary Jane had four children with her second husband before being widowed in 1906. In 1910 she married her first husband’s first cousin Hillary Jones MORRIS, a son of Lenard MORRIS mentioned earlier. The marriage did not last as Hillary was seen marrying again in 1918 with his marital status being divorced. Mary Jane went back to using MILAM, her second husband’s surname. She died in 1936 shortly before her 85th birthday in Charleston, Kanawha County.

Nancy Elizabeth SIMS had ten children, eight of whom were living in 1900. Nancy died before the 1910 census, likely between 1904-1906. Her husband Andrew Jackson KING was found in the 1910 census but not in 1920 or 1930. He died in 1936 in Roscoe, St. Clair County, Missouri per his death record.

Between 1880 and 1894 Thomas Newton SIMS and his wife had seven children, one of whom died as a baby. Per a handwritten obituary found on a descendant’s tree, he was the father of ten, six were living when he died on 3 March 1896. The three children who pre-deceased him are unknown at this time. Also surviving him was one sister per the obituary. The person who wrote it did not know he had four siblings still living in West Virginia. Thomas’ death was likely attributed to blood poisoning he developed when he cut his leg with an ax while chopping wood according to his granddaughter Georgiana Rae EVERHART (1908-2005). The obit claims he had been in poor health for two years. Thomas’ widow moved to Henry County, Missouri before 1900, remarried about 1905, moved to St. Louis County, Missouri by 1910, and died there in 1927.

A nice collection of photographs of William H. H. SIMS and his family were shared with me by Ron HURLEY. I have only shared two of these in this post as the rest were not identified at the time. I plan on sharing the photos in a future post.

The last installment will be for George Washington “Wash” SIMS, the youngest child of James SIMS and his second wife.

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

Rewriting the Biography: Dryden SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 19, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  3. R.C. and Beverly Bays Steele, Descendants of Thomas Bays (1798-1886), page 3. (https://books.google.lu/books/about/The_Descendants_of_Thomas_Bays_1798_1886.html?id=PYUxAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y : accessed 27 August 2018) 
  4. 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 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, imagea 24 + 25 of 67, page 9, line 30, Dryden Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  5. 1850 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, 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_963; Image: 304; Virginia, Nicholas County, Western District; image 63 of 93; Sheet No. 371A, lines 23-30, HH #412-412, Dryden Sims household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2018). 
  6. 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_1365; FHL Film: 805365; West Virginia, Nicholas County, Nicholas District; image 80 of 118, Sheet No. 1004, Page No. 86, Lines 14-21, HH #770-578, Dryden Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 August 2018). 
  7. 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_807; FHL Film: 552306; Missouri, St. Clair County, Chalk Level, image 15 of 22; Sheet No. 430B, Lines 19-23, HH #101-98, Dryden Sims household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 August 2018). 
  8. 1880 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i>, 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: 714; Missouri, St. Clair County, Monegan; image 23 of 27; ED No. 229, Sheet No. 317C, Page No. 23, LInes 24-28, HH #204-212, A. J. King household. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 August 2018). 
  9. “Missouri Probate Records, 1750-1998,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9LM-36NZ?cc=2399107&wc=QZ9D-HPN%3A1328143201%2C1328162674 : accessed 25 August 2018), St Clair > Administrator bonds, letters, settlements, 1867-1890, vol A5 > image 184 of 327 > right page > 1881 Dryden Sims administrator bond; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. 
  10. “Missouri Probate Records, 1750-1998,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99LM-3P6Z?cc=2399107&wc=QZ9D-7FH%3A1328143201%2C1328145386 : accessed 25 August 2018), St Clair > Probates, 1878-1888, vol D-E > image 209 of 684 > right page, 4th entry > 1882 Dryden Sims final settlement; Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City. 
  11.  Quintin Dale Vance, Wanda Rizpah Green, Edna M. Horne, David Vance and family, published 1985, page 35. Quoted by one of the authors, Wanda Green (1937-2006) in an email received 2 December 2002. 

Rewriting the Biography: Charles SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

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

The three youngest children of James SIMS and his second wife Elizabeth COTTON were boys. The oldest of these was Charles SIMS (1815-1891), born two months before his father turned 61 years old. His mother was about 35 years old.

Courtesy of Paul Guttman (1 January 2002)

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

As with all of the youngest children of James SIMS, Charles was seen in his father’s household in 1820. He was five years old and one of two males under the age of 10 years. The other was the baby of the family, at that time, Dryden age two.

1820 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James SIMS

1820 U.S. Federal Census 1
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 19
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Dryden and Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Jane and Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret and Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 2 (Isaac and Robert)
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25: 2 (Black Jude and Black Fanny)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 17

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

In 1830 Charles was 15 years old and seen in the 15 thru 19 category. The second male in the same category is obviously an error as Dryden would have been only 12 years old. Occupations were not listed on the 1830 census. James was 75 years old and likely relied on Charles to help with much of the work on the farm.

1830 U.S. Federal Census 2
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden & Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

When Fayette County was formed in 1831  the Gauley River became the borderline between Fayette and Nicholas County from Belva to the point where the Meadow River joins the Gauley.

The land owned by James SIMS was “on the Gauley River” and the lines crossed the river twice placing part of his tract in Fayette County:

Beginning at a Lynn & bank of the South Side of Gauley River at Deer Lick. East of two Lynns to a Corner in the Pattent, Running East thirty five poles to a Buckeye Thence South Sixty Degrees East 198 poles to three bushes on bank of the River north two hundred poles crossing the river to two White Oaks on a Hill, South seventy five degrees North one hundred & fifty four poles to a Stake in the open line thence South seventy six poles crossing the river to the Beginning…

When Charles SIMS was first seen on the census with his own household in 1840 he was likely living on the part of his father’s land which was now in Fayette County. Two males were in his household. The second was likely his youngest brother George who was not with their father.

Charles and George were both unmarried at this time. Charles had two enslaved persons in his household: a young male under 10 and a female 10 thru 23. By 1836 James SIMS had disposed of all of his slaves. Of all of the SIMS households in 1840, this was the only one with slaves.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Charles SIMS

1840 U.S. Federal Census3
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Sheet 147, Line 6
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1840
Name: Charles Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2 (Charles and George?)
Slaves – Males – Under 10: 1
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 1
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 2
Total Slaves: 2
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 4

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

 

Courtesy of Paul Guttman (1 January 2002)

In May 1842 Charles SIMS and Minerva J. SUMMERS went to Gallia County, Ohio, where they were married on the 17th. What a story this would make if only the details were known. Both the groom and bride’s parents lived in Nicholas County. By 1850 Charles and Minerva were the parents of four daughters. Also in their household was Charles FOSTER, the orphaned son of Charles’ sister Sarah.

Eight consecutive households with SIMS families were listed in the 1850 census including Charles, his brother George W., their half-brother Martin and three of his married sons, as well as two married sons of their half-brother William. In 1816 Charles’ half-brothers Martin and William had acquired 260 acres which joined the land of their father James SIMS which explains why so many SIMS households were enumerated one after the other on the census.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Charles SIMS household

1850 U.S. Federal Census4
Fayette County, Virginia
The 14th District
Sheets 343A+B, Lines 40-42 and 1-4, HH #174-174
Charles Sims 37 M Farmer $500 Virginia
Manerva J. Sims 26 F Virginia
Mary J. Sims 7 F Virginia
E. K. Sims 5 F Virginia
E. L. Sims 3 F Virginia
Lydia Sims 1/12 F Virginia
Charles Foster 13 M Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

Minerva gave Charles three more children during the 1850s, a son William L. and two daughters Mary F. and Ellen M. The four daughters who were born during the 1840s were still living at home. Charles was a farmer and his land was valued at $3000.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for the Charles SIMS household

1860 U.S. Federal Census5
Fayette County, Virginia
Gauley Bridge Post Office
Sheet 290, Page No. 108, Lines 11-19, HH #799-733
Charles Sims 45 M W Farmer $3000 $500 Virginia
Minerva Sims 39 F W Virginia
Jane Sims 18 F W Virginia
Eliza C. Sims 15 F W Virginia
Elizabeth A. Sims 13 F W Virginia
Lydia Sims 10 F W Virginia
William L. Sims 7 M W Virginia
Mary F. Sims 3 F W Virginia
Ellen M. Sims 9/12 F W Virginia

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

The 1860s brought two more children into the SIMS household as well as two marriages, and eight grandchildren.

Charles and Minerva’s oldest daughter Margaret Jane married George Washington NICHOLS in 1861. She gave him three sons before dying in 1867.

Their second oldest daughter Eliza C. was 15 when she married her first cousin once removed Franklin Pilcher SIMS, grandson of William SIMS (Charles’ half-brother) about 1861. He was fourteen years older. Eliza gave birth to five children before the 1870 census.

Minerva gave Charles another son Aaron Floyd in 1862 and a daughter Sallie Tyree in 1867. Seven children were living at home in 1870.

1870 U.S. Federal Census6
Fayette County, West Virginia
Falls of Kanawha Township
Martin Hill, Assistant Marshall, enumerator.
Sheet No. 110B+111A, Page No. 32+33, Lines 36-40 and 1-4, HH #217-212
Sims, Charles 54 M W farmer $1500 $310 Virginia male US citizen over 21 yo
Sims, Minerva 48 F W housekeeper Virginia
Sims, Sarah 3 F W Virginia
Sims, Elizabeth 22 F W at home Virginia
Sims, Liddy 20 F W at home Virginia
Sims, William 16 M W Virginia
Sims, Mary 13 F W Virginia
Sims, Ellen 10 F W Virginia
Sims, Floyd 8 M W Virginia

Daughter Eliza was in Nicholas County with her husband and five children. Son-in-law George W. NICHOLS was living in Kanawha County with his three sons, a new wife and their six months old daughter.

George R. Penick Jr. (1921-1986), a great-grandson of Charles, compiled a family history in 1978-1980.  The compilation did not have a name – I call it The Penick Papers. Mr. Penick tells an interesting story recounted to him by two persons.

According to Mrs. Mary Ann Smith, Webster Springs, WV and to Mrs. Helen Nichols Kelley, Earth, Texas, they had 3 sons, William, Bernard??, and Charles Lee. Sometime after Margaret died Mr. Nichols took William and Bernard?? and went west. On the way his horses bolted and Bernard??, age 5, fell out of the wagon and was killed when run over by a wagon wheel. Mr. Nichols left Charles in West Virginia (with his grandparents in Swiss according to Mrs. Kelley – and with his Uncle Frank Nichols in Dixie according to Mary Ann Smith). His paternal grandparents probably lived in Dixie.

There appears to be a question in this story of the name of the son who was killed. The 1870 census listing shows William age 8, Charles age 6, and Irvin age 4. In 1880 William was found with his father in Missouri and Charles was with his uncle Franklin M. NICKOLS in Fayette County, West Virginia. The youngest son Irvin born about 1866 per the 1870 census may likely be the son who was killed at the age of 5. A marriage record for George and his second wife Elizabeth ESTES has not been found. On the 1870 census, she was listed as born in Missouri. Their daughter Mary C. was born in December 1869 in West Virginia. The column for married within the census year is not checked therefore they likely married before June 1869. George may have gone out to Missouri after he was widowed in October 1867, married Miss Estes, and returned with her to West Virginia. The trip west when the tragic death of the son took place must have been after the 1870 census. If in 1871, Irvin would have been 5 and likely the son who was killed which would match the story. The 1880 census shows George and his family were in Missouri by 1873, in the Indian Territory around 1875 and back in Missouri around 1878.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Charles SIMS with his youngest daughter Sallie Tyree SIMS. Courtesy of Paul Guttman (1 January 2002)

In 1880 the four youngest children of Charles and Minerva were living at home. Charles was still working as a farmer. Also in their household was Minerva’s widowed brother-in-law John McNUTT. His two children were living with their SUMMERS grandparents.

1880 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, West Virginia for the Charles SIMS household and Franklin SIMS household

1880 U.S. Federal Census7
Fayette County, West Virginia
Falls District
Sheet No. 2D, Page No. 4, Lines 24-30, HH #22-22
Sims, Charles W M 64 married Farmer WV VA VA
Sims, Minerva J. W F 58 married Wife Keeping house WV VA VA
Sims, Mary J. W F 23 single Dau At home WV WV WV
Sims, Ella M. W F 22 single Dau At home WV WV WV
Sims, Floyd W M 17 single Son Laborer WV WV WV
Sims, Sallie W F 13 single Dau At home WV WV WV
McNutt, John W M 62 widowed Boarder Civil Engineer WV VA ?

Charles and Minerva’s daughter Lydia had married Ezra Walker MORRIS on Christmas Day 1871 and had three sons.

Their son William Lancaster SIMS never married and died in 1875 in Louisburg, Miami County, Kansas.

Eliza and her husband Franklin Pilcher SIMS were living next door to Charles and Minerva with their six children, Franklin’s father William SIMS Jr., and his brother William V. SIMS.

Elizabeth Ann had married Johnson Reynolds HEDRICK in February 1880 and was living with him in Putnam County. He was a widower with six children still at home in 1880.

Before the 1900 U.S. Federal Census

In February 1882 Charles and Minerva’s son Aaron Floyd married Nancy Ellen “Nannie E.” CARPER. The following month their daughter Mary F. married her first cousin Joseph Andrew Dixon DARLINGTON, son of Jane L. SIMS and Joseph DARLINGTON. Their daughter Ellen also known as Ella Mae married Charles E. SMAILES in April 1883.

Following these marriages, only young Sallie was living at home with her parents. In January 1886, according to Mr. Penick, Sallie and John Samuel SIMMS took a steamboot from Montgomery, Fayette County, West Virginia to Catlettsburg, Boyd County, Kentucky to be married. I have not been able to find a marriage record to corraborate this story. John, a great-great-grandson of James SIMS, was Sallie’s first cousin twice removed.

Courtesy of Paul Guttman (1 January 2002)

Charles SIMS died 26 April 1891 and his wife Minerva J. SUMMERS died 9 August 1899. They are both buried in the Sims Memorial Church Cemetery in Swiss, Nicholas County, behind the Sims Memorial M.(Methodist) E.(Episcopalian) Church. The church was built in 1922 on land donated by the Sims family and stands on the spot of James SIMS’ original 2-story log house.8

All census records and the marriage record for Charles SIMS give his name as Charles without a middle initial or name. Mr. Penick listed him as Charles Fulton SIMS and wrote “Birth & Marriage dates from Simms Family Bible. All of the handwritten Bible entries spell the name Sims.” It is not known if the middle name Fulton came from the Bible and Mr. Penick did not mention who owned it. As he is the only source for this middle name and I cannot substantiate it, I will continue to list him as Charles SIMS as seen on his grave marker.

The Remaining Children

Mary F. died at the age of 30 in 1887; Lydia Emmaretta died at the age of 65 in 1915; Ella Mae died at the age of 65 in 1924; Elizabeth Ann at the age of 90 in 1937; and Aaron Floyd died at the age of 78 in 1940.

Charles and Minerva’s youngest daughter Sallie Tyree SIMMS died at the age of 97 on 23 March 1964. The informant on her death certificate was her daughter Mae, mother of Mr. Penick. Sallie was the last living grandchild of James SIMS (1754-1845) and died 210 years after his birth.

The next installment will be for Dryden SIMS, the second youngest son of James SIMS and his second wife.

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

Rewriting the Biography: Charles SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 19, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  3. 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 0029685, NARA Roll M704_555, Virginia, Fayette page 147A+B, line 6, Charles Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  4. 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_943; Images: 291+292; Virginia, Fayette, District 14, image 27+28 of 91, Sheets 343A+B, Lines 40-42 and 1-4, HH #174-174, Charles Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2018). 
  5. 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_1344; FHL Film: 805344; West Virginia, Fayette County, District 1; image 94 of 118, Sheet No. 290, Page No. 108, Lines 11-19, HH #799-733, Charles Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2018). 
  6. 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_1686; FHL Film: 553185; West Virginia, Fayette County, Falls of Kanawha; image 32+33 of 36; Sheet No. 110B+111A, Page No. 32+33, Lines 36-40 and 1-4, HH #217-212, Charles Sims household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 August 2018). 
  7. 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: 1402; West Virginia, Fayette, Falls, ED 27, image 4 of 24, page 19, sheet 3A, lines 24-30, HH #22-22, Charles Sims household. “.” (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YBF-94Y1?cc=1417683&wc=QZ2W-5DS%3A1589415848%2C1589394995%2C1589403370%2C1589394804 : accessed 2 July 2018). 
  8. George R. Penick Jr., The Penick Papers (a Sims family history compiled in 1978-1980), pg. 13. 

Rewriting the Biography: Jane L. SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

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

The fifth child, fourth and youngest daughter of James SIMS and Elizabeth COTTON was born after the 1810 census, likely between 1810 and 1813. Jane SIMS was enumerated in 1820 age under 10, 1830 age 15-19, 1840 age 20-29, 1850 age 40, 1860 age 47, 1870 age 56, and 1880 age 67.

Her census analysis has not been easy. She lived long enough to be enumerated on the first census with relationships – the 1880 census. But how I wish the three before, from 1850 to 1870, also had the relationship to the head of household included.

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

Jane was born in Kanawha County before the creation of Nicholas County in 1818. In 1820 she was the baby girl of the family but had two younger brothers.

1820 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James SIMS

1820 U.S. Federal Census 1
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No. 204A, Sheet 152, Line 19
Enumeration Date: 7 August 1820
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (Dryden, Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 2 (Jane & Sarah)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret, Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Slaves – Males – Under 14: 2
Slaves – Males – 14 thru 25: 2 (Isaac and Robert)
Slaves – Females – Under 14: 3
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 25: 2 (Black Jude and Black Fanny)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 3
Free White Persons – Under 16: 6
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total Slaves: 9
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 17

The 1830 U.S. Federal Census

In 1830 Jane was a young lady just under 20 and the only daughter still living in the household of James SIMS. She now had three younger brothers. Along with her parents and brothers, there were five slaves in the household, four less than a decade earlier.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James SIMS

1830 U.S. Federal Census 2
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: James Sims
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (George W.)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 2 (Dryden & Charles)
Free White Persons – Males – 70 thru 79: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 40 thru 49: 1 (Elizabeth 46-49)
Slaves – Males – 10 thru 23: 1
Slaves – Males – 24 thru 35: 1 (Isaac?)
Slaves – Females – 10 thru 23: 2
Slaves – Females – 24 thru 35: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 6
Total Slaves: 5
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 11

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

Jane SIMS married Joseph DARLINGTON, son of Benjamin DARLINGTON and Mary “Polly” JOHNSON on 25 August 1831. They were married by Rev. John JOHNSON. Her mother-in-law was the sister of her half-siblings’ spouses: Rev. John JOHNSON (md. Elizabeth SIMS), Susannah JOHNSON (md. Martin SIMS), and William JOHNSON (md. Nancy Ann SIMS).

The 1840 census was enumerated by visit and not in alphabetical order. Jane and Joseph were living next door to her father James. There were two men in the household who were engaged in agriculture, her husband Joseph and an unknown man who was also in the 20 thru 29 years old age range. Since their marriage in 1831, Jane had given birth to five children: three daughters and two sons.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James SIMS and Joseph DARLINGTON

1840 U.S. Federal Census3
Nicholas County, Virginia
Name: Joseph Darlington
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (Benjamin)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2 (Joseph & ?)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Rhoda)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2 (Mary, Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Jane)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 2
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 3
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 8

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

In 1850 we find the family living next door to Jane’s half-nephew Jonathan SIMS (son of her half-brother William) and her brother Dryden SIMS. Dryden was involved in the settlement of his father James’ estate which could mean that he and his sister Jane were actually living on the land which was part of the estate of James SIMS.

A naming pattern was seen when the names of the children were found in the 1850 census. Jane and Joseph had named their first four children after their parents:

  • Elizabeth after her maternal grandmother
  • Mary after her paternal grandmother
  • Benjamin after his paternal grandfather
  • James after his maternal grandmother.

These children were followed by Rhoda Ann, Lorenzo Dow, Catherine, Houstin, and David. The last two would be missing in the next census. Joseph was a farmer and his two older sons, Benjamin 14 and James 12, likely helped on the farm and were not listed with occupations.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for the Joseph DARLINGTON household

1850 U.S. Federal Census4
Nicholas County, Virginia
The 43rd District
Enumerated on 26 August 1850 by D. Oliver Kelly Ass’t Marshal
Sheet No. 371A (line 41-42) & 371B (line 1-9), HH #414-414
Darlington, Joseph 38 M W Farmer Virginia
Darlington, Jane 40 F W Virginia
Darlington, Elizabeth 18 F W Virginia
Darlington, Mary 16 F W Virginia
Darlington, Benjamin 14 M W Virginia
Darlington, James 12 M W Virginia
Darlington, Roda 10 F W Virginia
Darlington, Lorenzo 9 M W Virginia
Darlington, Catharine 7 F W Virginia
Darlington, Houstin 5 M W Virginia
Darlington, David 1 M W Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

In 1857 two of Jane and Joseph’s children married. Their oldest daughter Elizabeth married George PETTIT in January and their second son James F. married Mary Frances WHALEN in March. The PETTIT family was living near Dryden SIMS in 1860 while James and his family were likely missed.

Jane and Joseph were living near other SIMS families as well as Isaac SIMS, the enslaved man James SIMS had emancipated. Isaac owned land which bordered on the land of previously owned by James SIMS. There were, however, unoccupied households on both sides of the DARLINGTON family in 1860. This sets the household apart from the rest of the persons enumerated on the page. But perhaps this is not of great importance as the enumerator, as seen on other pages of the census, appears to have kept track of all unoccupied dwellings he visited in the area.

The members of the household in 1860 caused a lot of head scratching. Elizabeth and James, as mentioned, were married and no longer at home. Joseph and Jane were seen with eight children between the ages of 21 and 9. Rhoda, Lorenzo, and Catherine were carried over from 1850 to 1860 aging 10 years.

Missing on the 1860 census were Mary, Benjamin, Houstin, and David. New on the 1860 census were Rowdy M. age 21, Andrew D. age 15, Sarah A. age 13, Martha M. age 11, and Susan J. age 9? Are their ages correct? Why weren’t the first four found on the 1850 census? Could Andrew D. be the son David age 1 in 1850? If so, were the ages of the girls also off by up to four years? Was Jane the mother of these three girls or were they children taken in by the family? Sarah and Martha were not found in 1850 with the Darlington surname. The three girls were not found in 1870 nor in the register of marriages for Nicholas or surrounding counties.

And what of Rowdy M.? Was he supposed to be Benjamin? Rhoda Ann also went by Rhodie. Could there have been a mix-up in the name for the young man and Rhoda/Rhodie’s name was listed twice?

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for the Joseph DARLINGTON household

1860 U.S. Federal Census5
Nicholas County, Virginia
Nicholas Court House
Page No. 100, Sheet No. 1018, Lines 28-37, HH #919-683
Darlington, Joseph 45 M Farmer $1100 $300 Virginia
Darlington, Jane L. 47 F Wife Virginia
Darlington, Rowdy M. 21 M Laborer Virginia
Darlington, Roda Ann 20 F Domestic Virginia
Darlington, Lorenzo 19 M Farmer Virginia
Darlington, Catherine 18 F Domestic Virginia
Darlington, Andrew D. 15 M LaborerVirginia
Darlington, Sarah A. 13 F Virginia
Darlington, Martha M. 11 F Virginia
Darlington, Susan J. 9 F Virginia

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

The 1870 census would not solve the questions caused by the 1860 census. Jane and Joseph’s oldest daughter Elizabeth must have died as her PETTIT children were found living with their DARLINGTON grandparents. George PETTIT, the father of the children, was in the previous household. Jane and Joseph’s son James also died in the 1860s, possibly in 1865 as his youngest child, a daughter was born in December 1865 and named Edith James. His widow and children were living with her mother in Fayette County. Lorenzo Dow married Jane “Jennie” NEAL in 1863 and was living in Kanawha County.

Only two children were living at home, Rosa and Dixon. Rosa is likely an error and should be Rhoda. She would be married with one child by 1880. Dixon age 15 would have been 5 in 1860 but there was no child this young in the family at the time. Would the 1880 census clear this up?

As in 1860, Joseph owned real estate, however, no record has as yet been found to document this.

1870 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, West Virginia for the Joseph DARLINGTON household

1870 U.S. Federal Census6
Nicholas County, West Virginia
Jefferson Township
Page No. 8, Sheet No. 166B, Lines 8-14, HH #53-53
Darlington, Joseph 57 M W Farmer $700 $500 West Virginia male US Cit. over 21yo
Darlington, Jane 56 F W West Virginia
Darlington, Rosa 30 F W At home West Virginia
Darlington, Dixon 15 M W Farm Laborer West Virginia
Pettit, William 12 M W At home West Virginia cannot read & write
Pettit, Jane 11 F W At home West Virginia cannot read & write
Pettit, Elizabeth 10 F W At home West Virginia cannot read & write

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Jane was the informant for the death of her husband Joseph when he died on 1 February 1875. In 1880 Jane was living with her daughter Rhoda who had married the widower William B. MORRIS and was enumerated as his mother-in-law. Jane was three years younger than her son-in-law William. Rhoda and William had a daughter Valena Victoria born on 5 June 1876.

Also in the household was Joseph A. D. DARLINGTON age 25 and whose relationship to the head of household was brother-in-law. Is this the same young man as Dixon 1870 age 15 and Andrew D. 1860 age 15? Should the age in 1860 have been 5? Was he the youngest son of Jane and Joseph as the relationship to William Morris would suggest? Did he begin to use the first name Joseph after the death of his father?

1880 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, West Virginia for the William B. MORRIS household with Jane (Sims) DARLINGTON

1880 U.S. Federal Census7
Nicholas County, West Virginia
Jefferson Township
Enumeration District No. 105
Page No. 6, Sheet No. 98B, Lines 2-7, HH #39-39
Morris, William B. W M 70 married Physician WV WV WV
Morris, Rhoda W F 41 wife married Keeping house WV WV WV
Morris, Sarah J. W F 24 daughter single WV WV WV
Morris, Velena V. W F 3 daughter single cannot read & write WV WV WV
Darlington, Jane W F 67 Mother-in-law widowed cannot read & write WV WV WV
Darlington, Joseph A. D. W M 25 Brother-in-law single Works on farm WV WV WV

After the 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Jane SIMS, the widow of Joseph DARLINGTON, was not found in the 1900 census. She likely died after the 1880 census in a time period in which death records are sparse for Nicholas County. Where were her children?

Elizabeth had died between 1860-1870 leaving three known children and a widower. I had not been able to trace any of the children until I found a birth record for Elizabeth’s son William L. The date of birth matches that found on a death certificate for a man by the same name who died in 1942. An error was made by the son who declared his death, giving the informant’s mother’s name instead mother of the deceased. The name of the father was not known. The 1889 marriage record of William L. PETTITT and Maria SMITH included the names of his parents: George and Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s son had moved to the southern part of West Virginia, living in Mercer and Mingo counties.

Traces of Mary, Benjamin, Houstin, and David were lost after 1850. I had also lost Catherine after the 1860 census. With the recent find of Elizabeth’s son William, I searched for him in the Ancestry user trees and found a tree for him which includes his aunt Catherine. She married Rev. Anderson Marion NEAL in 1864 or earlier and they had ten children, eight living in 1900 per the census. A quick perusal of delayed birth records and death records for her children show their mother was a DARLINGTON with the middle name Jane, born in Swiss, Nicholas County. Swiss is the town in which James SIMS’ original land tract was located. Records for her family will have to be added to my database as this was found only hours before I was to publish this post.

James’ widow Mary Frances WHALEN died 13 December 1904 per records kept by descendants of this line. She lived Fayette County. The death records of three of the four children who lived to adulthood prove their parents were James DARLINGTON and Mary WHALEN. The death record (index only) of the fourth child who died in Chicago in 1908 does not include the names of his parents who were from West Virginia.

Rhoda who married William B. MORRIS before 5 June 1876 was widowed 5 May 1886 and reported his death. She was not found in the 1900 census. By 1910 she was living in the household of John S. DARLINGTON who had married her only child Valena. Rhoda died in 1915 at the age of 78 in Jefferson district of Nicholas County.

Lorenzo Dow lived in Jefferson, Nicholas County until his death caused by liver and kidney trouble in 1905 at the age of 64. He was the father of nine, four of whom died in infancy while the other five lived long lives dying in their 60s and 70s. His son John S. who married his sister’s daughter Valena lived to be 81 dying in 1952.

No trace of Joseph Andrew Dixon DARLINGTON was found after his marriage in 1882 in Kanawha County to his first cousin Mary F. SIMS (1857-1887), daughter of Charles SIMS and Minerva J. SUMMERS.

In the next installment Charles Fulton SIMS (1815-1891), the third youngest son of James SIMS and his second wife Elizabeth COTTON will be featured. Charles was the father of Mary F. SIMS mentioned in the previous paragraph. Perhaps while working on his census analysis I will pick up a trace of his son-in-law and nephew Joseph A. D. DARLINGTON.

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

Rewriting the Biography: Jane SIMS in the U.S. Federal Census

  1. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, 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_130, image 388, Virginia, Nicholas, page 204A, line 19, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 February 2018). 
  2. 1830 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Fifth Census of the United States, 1830 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M19, 201 rolls, FHL Film: 0029677, NARA Rol M19_198, Nicholas, Virginia, image 35+36 of 42, page 189A+B, line 17, James Sims. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  3. 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 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 26+27 of 37, Sheet 10A+B, Line 9, Joseph Darlington. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  4. 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_963; Images: 304-305; Virginia, Nicholas County, Western District, images 63+64 of 93, Sheet No. 371A (line 41-42) & 371B (line 1-9), HH #414-414, Joseph Darlington household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 August 2018). 
  5. 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_1365; FHL Film: 805365; West Virginia, Nicholas County, Nicholas, image 94 of 118, Page No. 100, Sheet No. 1018, Lines 28-37, HH #919-683, Joseph Darlington household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 August 2018). 
  6. 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_1695; FHL Film: 553194; West Virginia, Nicholas, Jefferson, image 8 of 17, Page No. 8, Sheet No. 166B, Lines 8-14, HH #53-53, Joseph Darlington household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 April 2018). 
  7. 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: 1410; West Virginia, Nicholas, Jefferson, image 6 of 17, Enumeration District No. 105, Page No. 6, Sheet No. 98B, Lines 2-7, HH #39-39, William B. Morris household. (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 August 2018).