Rewriting the Biography: Sarah 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.

Sarah SIMS was the third child of James SIMS and his second wife Elizabeth COTTON. The order of birth cannot be proven as noted in my previous post on her sister Margaret.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

Sarah’s year of birth is not known and I estimate it at between 1804-1806 due to the fact that she married in 1825. In 1810 she fit into the under 10 years of age category placing her birth at between 1801-1810. She was found in her father’s household with her mother and siblings James, Margaret, and Mildred as well as five slaves.

1810 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia including the entry for James Simms (top line)

1810 U.S. Federal Census 1
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Sheet 207A, Line 23
Name: James Simms
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 1 (James Jr.)
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 3 (Margaret, Sarah, and Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5 (Isaac, Black Jude, Black Fanny, Robert, and unknown)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 11

The 1820 U.S. Federal Census

As mentioned in the previous post for Margaret SIMS, the two oldest daughters’ of James SIMS from his second marriage to Elizabeth COTTON did not live long enough to be included on the 1850 census which would give a more accurate estimate for their births. Also discussed in the previous post was the possible unreliability of the 1820 census due to its appearance. Light and dark writing suggest it was worked over after the original information was gathered. By 1820 the household of James SIMS had grown to include four daughters and two sons. Sarah’s oldest brother was not living at home. There were more slaves in the household than family members.

1820 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James Sims (highlighted)

1820 U.S. Federal Census 2
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 (Mildred and Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Margaret and Sarah)
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

Sarah gave birth to an illegitimate son Milton SIMS about 1824. The following year on 6 September 1825 she married Peyton FOSTER, a widower, in Nicholas County.

Peyton’s first wife Nancy JOHNSON, daughter of my 5th great-grandparents William JOHNSON and Amy NELSON, had given him two sons per the 1820 census. She may have also given birth to another son after the 1820 census and before her death. This is reflected in there being two males in the 5 thru 9 years age group in 1830. One of these was Sarah’s son Milton SIMS while the other could have been a son from Peyton’s previous marriage. The only known child of Peyton FOSTER and Nancy JOHNSON was Johnson FOSTER, whose given name was his mother’s maiden name. As an aside, Nancy was a sister of my 4th great-grandfather William JOHNSON Jr. who married Nancy Ann SIMS, Sarah’s half-sister.

Sarah and Peyton had a daughter Mariah born about 1828. There was also an unknown male in the household. We will get to him later.

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for Peyton Foster

1830 U.S. Federal Census3
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Name: Peyton Foster
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2 (marked out and not included in total)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (Sarah’s son Milton and unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (son Johnson from Peyton’s first marriage)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 2 (marked out and not included in total)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 2 (Peyton Foster and unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 1 (Mariah)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Sarah)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 4
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 5
Total Free White Persons: 7
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 7
Note: There were two columns on the census which were marked out and not included in the total.

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

No trace of Peyton FOSTER was found in the 1840 census. Was he deceased? Was Sarah living with her children in the household of another relative? I suspect both Peyton and Sarah were deceased by 1840. But can this be proven?

Peyton FOSTER did not leave a will in Nicholas or Fayette counties which might include the names of his children or which might infer his wife Sarah pre-deceased him. It is known that she died before 1848 when the partition suit was filed for James SIMS’ land and her children were named:

…also the children of Sarah Foster, formerly Sarah Sims, to-wit, Jordan Hickson and Mariah his wife; James Foster, Peyton Foster, Charles Foster, and Milton Sims, the last three but one are infants…

There are several factors which make finding the FOSTER children in 1840 difficult. The most obvious being the pre-1850 census did not include names of persons other than the head of household. Changing county border lines also cause a problem. Sarah lived in an area of Nicholas County which became Fayette County in 1831 and family was on both sides of the county line. The size of the family Sarah came from also makes it difficult to figure out who her children may have been living with in 1840.

Milton SIMS and Charles FOSTER

Milton SIMS was the one son who was no longer an infant in 1848. James, Peyton, and Charles were infants in 1848. From later census years it is known that James was born about 1830, Peyton about 1833, and Charles about 1837. There are three households in 1840 in which I believe Sarah’s three infant sons may be found. As I have already worked through the pre-1850 census listings for the SIMS families I have an idea of which families have people living in the household who did not fit into the family group.

Sarah’s father James SIMS was still living in 1840 and had two unknown young males in his home. It is likely they were the 3 years old Charles and one of the two older sons, Milton SIMS about 15 or James about 9. As the age range is 10 thru 14, I am leaning more to this being Milton.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Nicholas County, Virginia for James Sims Sr. (highlighted)

1840 U.S. Federal Census4
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. Milton or James, sons 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

Peyton FOSTER

I suspect young Peyton who was about 7 was living with Cyrus WEDGE as he was with him in 1850 as will be seen below. Cyrus WEDGE is a piece of the puzzle which appears to fit due to his location and the persons in his 1850 household however how he fits into the story of the FOSTER and SIMS family is still a mystery.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Cyrus Wedge

1840 U.S. Federal Census5
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Page 147, Line
Name: Cyrus Wedge
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 1 (poss. Peyton, son of Sarah)
Free White Persons – Males – 50 thru 59: 1 (Cyrus)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Jane)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 1
Free White Persons – Under 20: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 3

Mariah and James FOSTER

Dryden SIMS, the 7th child of James SIMS and his second wife, had in his household in 1840 three children who did not fit into his known family group. Dryden will be discussed in a later post.

In order to follow my reasoning, the reader needs to know he married in 1837 and had only a son Alfred by 1840. As no other full siblings of Sarah had individuals in their household who would fit, I would like to deduce that the children in Dryden’s household may be Sarah’s son James about 9 and her daughter Mariah about 13.

This leaves a young girl 5 thru 9 in the Dryden SIMS household who could have been a child of Sarah but who would have died by 1848 as no other child is mentioned in the partition suit. These unknown persons in Dryden’s household were not seen with him in 1850.

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

1840 U.S. Federal Census6
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, could this 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, could this 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

All of Sarah’s five children were found in the 1850 census.

Mariah FOSTER

Mariah had married Jordan HUDSON in 1846. His name was incorrectly seen (or transcribed) as HICKSON in the partition suit. Jordan and Mariah went to Washington County, Indiana, sometime before the 1850 census. Three of Jordan’s siblings were with them in 1850. Jordan and Mariah did not have children at this time.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Washington Township, Washington County, Indiana for Jordan Hudson household

1850 U.S. Federal Census7
Washington County, Indiana
Washington Township
Enumerated the 17th day of September 1850
Sheet No. 335A, Lines 5-9, HH #195-205
Jordan Hudson 28 male Farmer born in Virginia
Maria Hudson 22 female born in Virginia
Calvin B. Hudson 23 male Farmer born in Virginia
Creptha Hudson 21 female born in Virginia
Rebecca Hudson 12 female born in Virginia

Milton SIMS

Milton SIMS, Sarah’s son from a relationship prior to her marriage to Peyton FOSTER, had married Selina L. STEELE in 1847. They had a son Samuel B. born about 1849. His wife Selina may have brought a child into the marriage. Victoria STEELE age 9 was living with them. She was too young to be her sister (as will be seen in the section following the 1850 census) but could have been a daughter or niece.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Milton Sims, Cyrus Wedge with James and Peyton Foster, and Johnson Foster (half-brother)

1850 U.S. Federal Census8
Fayette County, Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 1st day of August 1850
Sheet No. 342A, Lines 25-28, HH #158-158
Milton Sims 26 M Farmer Virginia
S. L. Sims 31 F Virginia
Victoria Steele 9 F Virginia
Saml B. Sims 1 M Virginia

In the household following Milton’s, we find Cyrus WEDGE, the mystery man who was born in Vermont per the 1850 census or in Connecticut per the 1860 and 1870 census. Cyrus married Anna PETTIT in Kanawha County in 1824. Was he widowed by 1830 and was he the other adult male in the household of Peyton FOSTER in 1830? Cyrus married Jane HALEY in 1838 in Fayette County. The age range for the female in the 1840 census for Cyrus WEDGE (above) does not fit the age seen (below) for his wife Jane. The first name of the wife in 1850 matches the name on the 1838 marriage record. No other marriage has been found for him after 1840 and before 1850.

James and Peyton FOSTER

The FOSTER boys, James and Peyton, are in the WEDGE household in 1850 as well as a third child, Octavia YOUNG. Octavia would marry John HUGHES in 1860 and they would be living next door to the WEDGE couple in 1860. John was discovered to be the son of Matthew HUGHES and Margaret SIMS (Sarah’s sister) in my last post.

1850 U.S. Federal Census9 (See image above)
Fayette County, Virginia
The 14th District
Enumerated on the 1st day of August 1850
Sheet No. 342A, Lines 29-33, HH #159-159
Cyrus Wedge 60 M Farmer Vermont
Jane Wedge 66 F Ireland cannot read & write
James Foster 19 M Laborer Virginia
Peyton Foster 17 M Virginia
Octava Young 11 F Virginia

Johnson FOSTER (step-son)

Johnson FOSTER, Sarah’s step-son remained close to his half-brothers. He married Mary “Polly” HUGHES, daughter of Thomas HUGHES Jr. and Mary “Polly” SIMS (half-sister of Sarah) before 1844. He was found in the household following Cyrus WEDGE in 1850. Johnson would die in 1855 and his widow Mary would remain on the land along with the newlyweds Octavia YOUNG and John HUGHES in 1860.

1850 U.S. Federal Census10 (See image above)
The 14th District
Fayette County, Virginia
Enumerated on the 1st day of August 1850
Sheet No. 342A, Lines 34-39, HH #160-160
Johnson Foster 33 M Farmer Virginia
Mary Foster 26 F Virginia cannot read & write
Thomas Foster 6 M Virginia
James Foster 5 M Virginia
Johnson Foster 2 M Virginia
Mary E. Foster 2/12 F Virginia

Charles FOSTER

The youngest son of Sarah SIMS and Peyton FOSTER, Charles was living with his uncle Charles SIMS. He was the 6th child of James SIMS and his second wife and will be discussed in a later post.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Charles Sims household including Charles Foster

1850 U.S. Federal Census11
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

After The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

Milton SIMS and his wife Selina L. STEELE had three more sons by 1860. Victoria STEELE was still in the household. Milton was widowed after the 1870 census and remarried in 1876 to Mary Salinas WOOD, a daughter of my 3rd great-grandparents Elijah WOOD and Rachel HONAKER. She was widowed twice and had McGRAW and ARBAUGH children. Milton died after the 1880 census and did not have children with his second wife who wrote her last will and testament in 1897. It was recorded in 1901 following her death.

Mariah FOSTER returned with her husband Jordan HUDSON to Fayette County soon after the 1850 census. They had two children born in 1851 and 1854 before Jordan died, likely between 1854-1857. Mariah, seen as widowed in the marriage register, then married her first cousin Alfred Hansford SIMS, son of Dryden SIMS and Rebecca BAYS, on 5 January 1858 in Fayette. They had seven children by 1874 before Alfred disappeared. Mariah was listed as widowed in 1880, missed in 1900 and 1910, and found with her youngest daughter in 1920. She was enumerated as widowed and 95 years old in 1920. A death record has not been found. What happened to her second husband A. H. SIMS? The answer will have to wait until Dryden SIMS’ census records are analyzed.

James FOSTER married a young lady named Eliza Jane before 1853. They had four sons in the 1850s and three daughters in the 1860s. James and Eliza Jane likely died by 1880 when the children were found spread around in different households. Birth, marriage, and deaths records of the children were searched for any record with the maiden name of Eliza Jane. Only one death record was found with the name of the mother, Eliza Jane SEAL. This is a very unusual surname for the area. It’s possible she was Eliza Jane STEELE, seen in 1850 age 14 with the family of Selina L. STEELE. In 1965 Alexander Napoleon Rippetoe STEELE (91 years old at the time), recounted to Allen STEELE and Kitty Steele BARRERA that his father Jeffrey Oliver STEELE Jr. was the youngest child of Jeffrey Oliver STEELE Sr., father of Selina. Jeffrey Jr. was 18 on the 1850 census. Could this mean Victoria was a grandchild of one of the older STEELE children?

Peyton FOSTER married Margaret HARRAH, daughter of Daniel HARRAH and Rachel Ann SMITH, in 1855. Their entry in the marriage register of Fayette County has her maiden name spelled O’HARROW. They had five known children. They named one son Cyrus, after Cyrus WEDGE and a daughter Rachel Ann after Margaret’s mother. Margaret died before 1880 and Peyton was last seen in 1900 in Kanawha County with his son Cyrus’ family.

Charles FOSTER married Antonietta E. COPELAND on 25 December 1857 in Fayette County. They had five known children born between 1859 and 1872. Charles died sometime after 1872 and before 1877. His widow remarried on 27 December 1877 to William KINCAID. By 1880 she was seen as widowed. Antonietta lived with her youngest daughter Mary Ann in 1920 and died in August that year at the age of 83.

Remaining to be analyzed are the census listings of two daughters and three sons of James SIMS and Elizabeth COTTON. All five lived at least until the 1880 census which will make them a bit easier and more interesting to study, research, and write about. Next up is Mildred “Milly” SIMS, the wife of Joel Dixon SETTLE Jr.

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

Rewriting the Biography: Sarah Sims in the U.S. Federal Census

  1. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, (index and images), Ancestry, citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, FHL 0181429, roll 69, image 405, Virginia, Kanawha, Kanawha, page 129, sheet 207A, line 23, James Simms (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 February 2018). 
  2. 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). 
  3. 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 Roll M19_198, Virginia, Nicholas, image 11+12 of 42, page 177A+B, line 24, Peyton Foster. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 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, image 26+27 of 67, page 10, line 8, James Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  5. Ibid., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029685, NARA Roll M704_555, Virginia, Fayette, images 17+18 of 54, page 147A+B, line 22, Cyrus Wedge. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  6. Ibid., NARA microfilm publication M704, 580 rolls, FHL Film 0029690, NARA Roll M704_571, Virginia, Nicholas, image 24+25 of 67, page 9, line 30, Dryden Sims. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2018). 
  7. 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_179; Images: 498; Indiana, Wahington, Washington, image 31 of 52, Sheet No. 335A, Lines 5-9, HH #195-205, Jordan Hudson household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 July 2018). 
  8. Ibid., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_943; Image: 289; Virginia, Fayette, District 14, image 25 of 91, Sheet No. 342A, Lines 25-28, HH #158-158, Milton Sims household. “.” (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 July 2018). 
  9. Ibid., Lines 29-33, HH #159-159, Cyrus Wedge. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2018). 
  10. Ibid., Lines 34-39, HH #160-160, Johnson Foster household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 July 2018). 
  11. 1850 U.S. Cesnsus, 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). 
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52 Ancestors: #36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #36 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

I’m a bit behind on this week’s entry. Setting up my new laptop is taking me longer than I thought. And there are other things in my life that have priority – spending time with my husband and children, keeping myself healthy (310 kilometers/11+ hours on my bike since the 1st of the month), and creating memories.

52 Ancestors: #36 William JOHNSON Jr. 1793-1845

William JOHNSON Sr. (1755-1805) and Amy NELSON (1757-1837) married about 1774. Most family trees have their place of marriage as Bath County in Virginia but I cannot agree with this.

As is the case with all research in old Virginia, the county formations need to be considered. Bath County was created in 1790 from parts of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier counties. Greenbrier was formed in 1778 from Botetourt and Montgomery counties. Botetourt County was established in 1770 from Augusta County. The marriage of William and Amy most likely took place in the area of Botetourt County that later went to Greenbrier or in Augusta County where the Johnston families lived. As this is a portrait of William JOHNSON Jr., I will go into the Johnston connection in Augusta County in a later post.

William and Amy were the parents of at least 8 known children, one of them being my fourth great-grandfather William JOHNSON (1793-1845) born about 1793 on Lick Run, Greenbrier County in old Virginia, now West Virginia.

William’s oldest brother Rev. John Brown JOHNSON was born in 1777 in Botetourt or Augusta County. Their father may have been away from home for long periods of time due to his military service during the Revolutionary War (1775-1784). In any case the next child Nelson JOHNSON was born about 1782. In Laidley’s 1911 History[1] Nelson is named as one of the four sons of William JOHNSON Sr.. Other sources[2] have him listed as the son of Benjamin JOHNSON.

In a biography of Julian M. Johnson, grandson of William Jr., William Sr. moved to what is now Monroe County, West Virginia, after the end of the Revolutionary War and lived there a number of years.[1]

New records brought to light by Wayne L. Johnson, a direct descendant of William Jr., may prove that William Sr. was actually in the area when Greenbrier County was formed in 1778.[3] This would mean that John B. and Nelson were born “in the Sinks” as the JOHNSONs were there in 1784:

“Among the people who were living in the Sinks at the close of the Revolution were several Methodist families. Among these were the Blantons, the Christys, the Johnsons, and the Warrens. They held religious meetings at their homes, and as their membership was growing, they organized a regular society late in the summer of 1784. This date, it will be observed, is also that of the independence of the Methodist Church.”[4]

James M. (1783-1834), Susannah* (1784-1840), Mary “Polly” (1790-1850), my 4th great-grandfather William (1793-1845), and Nancy (1794-1825) were born on Lick Run then part of Greenbrier County.

Between 1795 and 1798 the JOHNSON family moved to Peters Creek, at the time in Kanawha County, where William Sr. patented 500 acres. He settled and remained there the rest of his life. Amy (1795-1859) may have been the first child to be born on Peters Creek which would become part of Nicholas County when the county was formed in 1818.

“The murder of one individual or a dozen families did not deter the sturdy pioneer from his onward march in the conquest of the wilderness, and accordingly, before a year has passed after the destruction of Kelly’s settlement, we find Leonard and William Morris both residing almost in sight of the fatal spot. Their settlement is elsewhere noticed [pg. 58, Kelly was killed in early 1773]. Among those who here found homes and become actual settlers in the next few years were John Hansford, Sr., Thomas Foster, Ransom Gatewood, Robert Perry, John Jarrett, John D. Massey, Gallatin G. Hansford, William Johnson, John Wheeler, Shadrach Childers, Peter Likens, Spencer Hill, William Pryor, Barney Green, Thomas Trigg and Shadrach Hariman.”[5]

Two land records extracted from the deed books of Greenbrier County many years ago by David Fridley (who did not note the book or page on these). They would indicate that William and Amy left for Kanawha around 1798 selling a total of 238 acres:

  • 25 June 1798. William Johnson and Amy deeded out 150 acres Lick Run. Witn: John Johnston
  • 26 June 1798. William Johnson and Amy sold 88 acres Lick Run. Witn: John Johnston, et al.

This matches a statement in the biography of Julian M. Johnson by Laidley:

“Then he and his sons, William, John, Nelson and James, moved to Gauley River in what is now Nicholas County, WV, near and below the mouth of Little Elk about 1798.”[6]

William’s youngest sister Elizabeth (1799-1840) was born the year after the family moved to Kanawha County.

*At the turn of the century William’s sister Susannah JOHNSON was the first to marry. She married Martin SIMS (1783-1853) on 28 March 1800[7] in Greenbrier County. The permission slip for Susannah’s marriage was signed by her father William JOHNSON. I don’t have a copy of this document however Tim Spradling has put it on his list for his trip to the courthouse this fall. A comparison of the signature on the permission slip with other signatures found for William Sr. will help to determine if this young lady was the daughter of our William JOHNSON Sr. or the William JOHNSTON who died and left a will in 1803 in Greenbrier County. The will mentions his four oldest children James, Polly, Samuel and Sally, and his younger sons William, George, John, and Andrew. There is no mention of a daughter Susannah.

MRIN02347 William Johnson gravemarker 2
Photo courtesy of Carl L. Johnson.

William’s brother John Brown JOHNSON married Elizabeth SIMS (1782-1845), sister of the above mentioned Martin SIMS, on 2 June 1802[8] in Kanawha County.

These would be the only two marriages of his children that William JOHNSON Sr. would live to see. William died 22 December 1805 and was buried near Swiss in present-day Nicholas County, West Virginia.

Following their father’s death the children lived with their mother Amy until one by one they married and started their own families. Mary “Polly” married Benjamin DARLINGTON (1775-1853) on 23 April 1810 in Kanawha County and was with her new husband when the 1810 census was enumerated. Amy was with her single children and close to son John and daughter Susannah who had married SIMS siblings.

1810censusjohnson
1810 U.S. Federal Census > Virginia > Kanawha > Kanawha > image 4 of 16 [ancestry.com]
1810 U.S. Federal Census
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Kanawha
Johnston, Anne (sic, Amy; listed just above her son John)
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (James & Alexander)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Nelson)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 1 (Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 2 (Amy & Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1 (Amy)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 4
Number of Household Members Over 25: 1
Number of Household Members: 8

During the time our nation was at war (War of 1812), William and his two unmarried brothers married.

    • James M. JOHNSON married Elizabeth MILLER ( -1823) on 29 April 1813 in Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
    • Nelson JOHNSON married Nancy MURPHY in 1813 in Kanawha County
    • William JOHNSON married Nancy Ann SIMS on 15 October 1814 in Kanawha County.

Soon after William married my 4th great-grandmother Nancy Ann SIMS, sister of Martin and Elizabeth SIMS mentioned earlier, their first child Nelson JOHNSON (1815-1855) was born about 1815 in Kanawha County. In all records found for Nelson, I have only seen “Nelson” as his first name. Denise Jackson of “Our Family Heritage” is a great-great-granddaughter of this son. Family lore is that his full name was Joseph Nelson JOHNSON and his grandson Joseph Nelson “JN” JOHNSON was named after him. On 9 May 2014 she wrote “It is only word of mouth about JN’s grandfather being Joseph Nelson Johnson and he (JN) being named for him” in response to my email to her about the full name. Before replying she checked with two of her cousins, sons of her father’s sister, and her two brothers as she said, “I wanted to check with all of them to make sure I had heard (and remembered) correctly.” They confirmed that she was right about the family lore.

William JOHNSON Jr. and his family originally lived at the mouth of Laurel Creek, a tributary of the Gauley River which empties about one mile above Swiss. In 1810 the JOHNSON and SIMS families were neighbors and it is known that James SIMS, father of Nancy Ann SIMS, made his home at Swiss. William’s son John Brown JOHNSON was born at the mouth of Rich Creek on Gauley in 1823 per the 1911 biography of his son Julian M. JOHNSON. This would have been in the area of Swiss. Later, most likely after 1823, the JOHNSON family moved to a place on Loop Creek (Loup Creek) in the area of what is known as Robson in present-day Fayette County, West Virginia.

“Loop Creek flows for its entire length in western Fayette County. It rises in the city of Oak Hill and flows initially west-northwestward through the unincorporated communities of Lick Fork, Wriston, Ingram Branch, and Hamilton; then northward through the unincorporated communities of Kincaid, Page, North Page, and Robson, to Deep Water, where it flows into the Kanawha River.” [Source: Wikipedia]

Before William and Nancy’s next child was born two of his sisters married brothers in Kanawha County: Nancy JOHNSON married Peyton FOSTER (1793- ) on 11 January 1815 and Amy JOHNSON married Turley FOSTER (1794-1859) on 16 November / 18 November 1816.

And William’s family continued to grow with the birth of my third great-grandmother Huldah JOHNSON (1817-1880) about 1817 and Alexander JOHNSON (1819-1887) on 10 June 1819.

The 1820 and 1830 census were enumerated in alphabetical order rather than in order of household visitation. This makes it less useful for locating the actual place that the family lived.

The family was in Nicholas County in 1820 and then next seen in Kanawha County in the 1830 census which supports the theory that their move to Loop Creek was in the 1820s, most likely between 1824-1830. Robson is 10 miles south of present-day Gauley Bridge. Fayette County was created on 28 February 1831 from parts of Greenbrier, Kanawha, Nicholas, and Logan counties. From then on William’s children were born on Loop Creek in Fayette County where they were seen in the 1840 census.

1820censusjohnson
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Nicholas [https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18200130unit#page/n388/mode/1up : accessed 10 May 2014]
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Nicholas County, (West) Virginia
Page No: 204B
Enumerated by: Hedgman Triplett on the 26th day of December 1820
William Johnson
2 males under 10 yo (Nelson and Alexander)
2 males 10 & under 16 yo (not sons of Wm and Nancy who were married only 6 yrs)
1 male 16 & under 26 yo (William)
1 female under 10 yo (Huldah)
1 female 16 & under 26 yo (Nancy Ann b. bet. 1794-1804)
1 person engaged in agriculture
7 persons in household

Following the enumeration of the 1820 census, William’s fourth child Mary JOHNSON (1820-1898) was born on 20 August 1820.

William’s sister Elizabeth JOHNSON married Presley FOSTER (1798-1873), a brother of Turley and Peyton FOSTER, on 12 March 1822 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia, and his brother James M. JOHNSON, recently widowed, married(2) Sarah LEGG (1795- ) on 6 March 1823 in Nicholas County, (West) Virginia.

Shortly before Christmas in 1823 another son, John Brown JOHNSON (1823-1902), was born on 23 December 1823. The family was very fond of this name!

The first of William’s siblings, Nancy (Johnson) FOSTER died before 6 September 1825 leaving only one known child, a son she named Johnson FOSTER.

Nancy gave William three more children before the 1830 census: Amy JOHNSON (1825-1904) on 4 November 1825, Lewis JOHNSON (1828-1845) on 6 March 1828, and Elizabeth JOHNSON (1829-1833) about 1829.

1830censusjohnson
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Kanawha [https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18300191unit#page/n397/mode/1up : accessed 11 May 2014]
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Kanawha County, (West) Virginia
Johnston, William
2 males under 5 yo (Lewis b. 1828, John Brown b. 1823)
1 male 5 & under 10 yo (Alexander b. 1819)
1 male 10 & under 15 yo (Nelson b. ca. 1815)
1 male 30 & under 40 yo (William Jr. b. 1793)
1 female under 5 yo (Amy b. 1825)
1 female 5 & under 10 yo (Mary b. 1820)
1 female 10 & under 15 yo (Huldah b. ca. 1818)
1 female 30 & under 40 yo (Nancy Ann Sims Johnson b. bet. 1791-1800)
1 female 70 & under 80 yo (Amy Nelson Johnson b. 1757)
7 free white persons under 20
2 free white person 20 thru 9
10 total free white persons
10 total – all persons

In William’s household, we see an older woman in his household. This must be his mother as family tradition is that she lived among her children until her death.

William’s family was not yet complete: William Hunter JOHNSON (1832-1899) was born 27 July 1832, Nancy JOHNSON (1835-1915) was born in August 1835. Sadly, young Elizabeth, about 4 years old, died about 1833 of the flux.

A year later William’s brother James M. JOHNSON died in 1834 on Loop Creek, Fayette County, (West) Virginia.

William’s oldest child Nelson JOHNSON married Elizabeth HUGHES (1817-1900) on 14 September 1837 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.

Sadly there would be another death in the family during the 1830s. William’s elderly mother Amy NELSON died on 23 December 1837 in Robson, Fayette County, (West) Virginia, and was buried in Nichols Cemetery on Loop Creek also seen as Nichols Hollow Cemetery, Robson. From the writings of Laura Blake, a local historian:

MRIN02347 Amy Nelson Johnson gravemarker
Courtesy of Gary Johnston (Facebook message dated 1 May 2013)

“Amie Nelson Johnson lived among her children after coming to Loup Creek but her last days were at the home of her son William, whose home was near that of Mutt Ellis. This was very close to the cemetery known then as the Kelly grave yard but now called the Nuchils cemetery. This is a beautiful location for a cemetery. In a row in this cemetery is the grave of William and Nancy Simms Johnson, two children, and the mother Amie Nelson Johnson. William and Nancy died around 1845 during a typhoid fever epidemic. Afterwards, most of his family went to Kanawha County to an area called the Grape Vine, near Charleston.”

Unfortunately Laura Blake did not get all the fact correct in the above statement. William’s wife Nancy SIMS did not die around 1845 during a typhoid fever epidemic. She was seen living with her son William Hunter JOHNSON in Kanawha County in 1860.

After his mother’s death, William’s wife Nancy gave him his last child Morris Houston JOHNSON (1839-1845) on 21 January 1839 in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.

William’s daughter Mary JOHNSON married David Alexander MILLER (1820-1871) on 13 December 1839[9] in Fayette County, (West) Virginia.

William’s sisters Elizabeth FOSTER and Susannah SIMS died before the 1840 census.

1840censusjohnson
1840 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Fayette > page 145 [https://archive.org/stream/populationsch1840555unit#page/n298/mode/1up : accessed 11 May 2014]
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Fayette County, (West) Virginia
Johnson, William Sr. (page 145)
2 males under 5 yo (William Hunter and Morris Houston)
1 male 5  & under 10 yo (Lewis)
1 male 15 & under 20 yo (John Brown)
1 male 20 & under 30 yo (Alexander)
1 male 40 & under 50 yo (William)
1 female under 5 yo (Nancy)
1 female 15 & under 20 yo (Amy)
1 female 20 & under 30 yo (Huldah)
1 female 30 & under 40 yo (Nancy Ann; should be listed as 40 & under 50 yo)
10 persons in household
2 persons engaged in agriculture

William and Nancy’s oldest daughter Huldah JOHNSON married Robert INGRAM (1819-1902) about 1841 in Fayette County (West) Virginia.

MRIN02003 William Johnson Jr. gravemarker
Courtesy of Gary Johnston (Facebook message dated 1 May 2013)

In 1845 during an epidemic of typhoid fever three members of the family died.

William’s sons died within three weeks of each other: Morris Houston JOHNSON died 11 August 1845 and Lewis JOHNSON died 31 August 1845.

William JOHNSON followed his sons on 18 December 1845. They are all buried in the Nichols Cemetery in Fayette County.

 

Sources:
[1] Laidley, William Sydney, History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia and Representative Citizens, Richmond Arnold Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1911.; pg. 979; online https://archive.org/stream/historyofcharles00laid#page/n5/mode/2up
[2] Christine Beckelheimer, submitter; “Benjamin Johnson”; The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993; sponsored and published by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, page 32.
[3] Wayne L. Johnson and Carl L. Johnson; These Lost Children of the Marquis of Annandale, Johnstone-Johnston-Johnson, Notes & Compilations in three volumes, Vol. II First Americans, Charleston, West Virginia. A copy of this draft (work in progress) received in mail on 16 July 2014 from Wayne via Tim Spradling.
[4] Oren F. Morton, The History of Monroe County, West Virginia, published by McClure Company, Inc., Staunton, Va. 1916; online https://archive.org/stream/historyofmonroec00mort#page/n5/mode/2up
[5] Laidley’s History; pg. 235
[6] Laidley’s History; pg. 979
[7] Larry Heffner, email dated 10 August 2004 in reply to my request for information on marriage papers of Martin Sims and Susanna Johnson in the archives of the Greenbrier Historical Society.
[8] The History of Fayette County West Virginia 1993; sponsored and published by the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce
[9] Sissonville A Time to Remember, The Sissonville Historical Awareness Committee, pg. 108; online http://www.rootsweb.com/~wvkanawh/Sissonville/index.html

© 2014 Cathy Meder-Dempsey

52 Ancestors: #27 Mary E. “Polly” DOSS ~ An Unwed Mother, Not a Spinster

52ancestors“The challenge: have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This is entry #27 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Hard to believe that we are halfway through the year and beginning the 2nd half of the challenge this week.

52 Ancestors: #27 Mary E. “Polly” DOSS ~ An Unwed Mother, Not a Spinster

My 3rd great-grandmother Polly never married. She wasn’t a spinster. She couldn’t have been since she was my ancestor. She was the mother of eight children all from a bond she had with one man my 3rd great-grandfather William CLONCH.

Polly was the daughter of Levina DOSS. Period. One unmarried mother in my family tree would be easy to take. But two is a bit harder. Polly’s mother Levina had up to seven children and left no trace of who the father of these children may have been. Or maybe she did leave something to identify the father(s) but it hasn’t been found [yet]. Why did these ladies, mother and daughter, never marry? Did they want to avoid total dependency on a husband?

Single Woman vs. Married Woman

Although life may have been harsh, Polly possessed more rights as a single woman than a woman who was married. A single woman had a say over certain matters in her life. She could own property, enter into contracts, act as executor of an estate, or serve as a guardian. A married woman’s legal identity essentially ceased to exist when she married. A husband owned whatever belonged to his wife with the exception of personal items such as clothes and jewelry.

Levina or Lavina

Polly was born in Pittsylvania County around 1816. Per her mother Levina DOSS’s 1820 and 1830 census details she was the 6th of 7 children in the household. The censuses are the only documents I have seen with Polly’s mother’s name – Levina. No documents have been found for Polly’s mother’s name being spelled Lavina. I believe, that since Polly named a daughter “Lavina” after her mother, others have assume that her mother’s name was also spelled this way.

Roots in Pittsylvania County, Virginia

The Doss family has strong roots in Halifax and Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In 1755 Levina’s grandfather James DOSS received a land grant for 272 acres in Halifax County, an area soon to become part of the newly created Pittsylvania County in 1767. This land grant was located adjacent to Beechtree Creek and Staunton River.

Pittsylvania County lies in south midland Virginia, bordering on the North Carolina line. Bordering counties are Bedford (northwest), Campbell (northeast), Halifax (east), Caswell in North Carolina (southeast), Rockingham in North Carolina (southwest), Henry (west/southwest), and Franklin (west/northwest). The neighboring counties are important as we find marriages of Polly’s brothers, Thomas DOSS in Caswell in 1827 and Phillip DOSS in Campbell in 1835.

Early Census Analysis

In 1820 Polly is the youngest female in Levina’s household. Other members are four brothers, an older sister, her mother, and most likely her grandmother Elizabeth DOSS née LESTER who was widowed in 1812.

1820censusdoss
1820 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Pittsylvania [ancestry.com]
1820 U.S. Federal Census
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Levina Doss
Free White Persons – Males – Under 10: 2 (William b. abt. 1811 & Phillip b. abt. 1814)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 15: 1 (unknown son b. bet. 1804-1810)
Note: no males 16-18 yo (therefore Thomas was 19 & under 26 yo)
Free White Persons – Males – 16 thru 25: 1 (Thomas b. abt. 1801)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 10: 1 (Mary E. b. abt. 1816)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (unknown daughter born bet. 1795-1804)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Levina b. abt. 1775)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1 (poss. mother Elizabeth b. abt. 1750)
Number of Persons – Engaged in Agriculture: 2
Free White Persons – Under 16: 4
Free White Persons – Over 25: 2
Total Free White Persons: 8
Total All Persons – White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 8

Can you tell that I love to do these?

By 1830 Polly and her younger sister Elizabeth were the only children living with their mother Levina. Next door was Polly’s brother William and her uncle Eben ANGEL, a Baptist minister and husband of Levina’s sister Elizabeth.

1830censusdoss
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Pittsylvania [ancestry.com]
1830 U.S. Federal Census
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Page No. 348
Levina Doss
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Elizabeth bet. 1821-1825)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Mary E. b. abt. 1816)
Free White Persons – Females – 50 thru 59: 1 (Levina, b. 1771-1775)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 3

Polly’s Siblings

  • Sib 1: Thomas DOSS (abt.1801-1881) born about 1801 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He married(1) Elizabeth EADS (abt.1802-bet.1860-1867) on 6 March 1827 in Caswell County, North Carolina. He married(2) Martha Forbes GORDON (1824-1881) on 28 April 1867 in Chariton County, Missouri. Thomas died on 1 April 1881 in Chariton County and was buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in same county.
  • Sib. 2: [–?–] (female) DOSS born bet. 1795-1804
  • Sib. 3: [–?–] (male) DOSS born bet. 1804-1810
  • Sib. 4: William DOSS (abt.1811-1888) born about 1811 in Pittsylvania County. He married Elizabeth BARBER (abt.1814-1898) on 12 May 1828 in Pittsylvania County. William died 22 November 1888 in Mason County, West Virginia.
  • Sib 5: Phillip Valorius “Phil” DOSS (abt.1814-aft.1880) born about 1814 in Pittsylvania County. He married Elizabeth BAILESS (abt.1815-aft.1880) on 25 December 1835 in Campbell County, Virginia. Phillip died after 1880.
  • Mary E. “Polly” DOSS born about 1816 in Pittsylvania County, died bef. 1892 in Mason County, West Virginia
  • Sib. 7: Elizabeth “Betsy” DOSS born bet. 1821-1825. She married(1) John CLONCH (abt.1810-bet.1844-1847) on 15 February 1842 in Gallia County, Ohio. She married(2) John William STEED (abt.1806-aft.1880) on 26 October 1848 in Gallia County, Ohio. Betsy died after 1880.

DOSS Families Move to Mason County, (West) Virginia

In the 1830s Polly and her siblings, with the exception of Phillip, moved to Mason County in what would later become West Virginia. The DOSS siblings were a tight bunch. It is not known if their mother Levina was still living and made the move with the group or if she had died and the children moved on.

William CLAUNCH (aka CLONCH), with whom Polly DOSS was living, was enumerated between her brothers William and Thomas in 1840 in Mason County. In William DOSS’s household was a young lady who fits the age group for their sister Elizabeth. None of the households had an older woman, and neither did their brother Phillip, who remained in Pittsylvania. It is believed that Levina DOSS died between 1830-1840.

1840censusdossclaunch
1840 U.S. Federal Census > (W)VA > Mason > page 214 [ancestry.com : accessed 3 July 2014]
1840 U.S. Federal Census
Mason County, (West) Virginia
Page 214
Thomas Doss
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 3 (Philip, Charles & unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 15 thru 19: 1 (too old to be a son from this marriage)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Thomas)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Judah)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Elizabeth)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 2
Free White Persons – Under 20: 5
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 7
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 7
William Claunch
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 1 (Mariah J.)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Polly)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 2
Free White Persons – Under 20: 1
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 3
Total All Persons – Free White, Free Colored, Slaves: 3
William Doss
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 1 (James)
Free White Persons – Males – 5 thru 9: 2 (William & unknown)
Free White Persons – Males – 10 thru 14: 1 (John)
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (could this be John Clonch?)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (William)
Free White Persons – Females – 15 thru 19: 1 (sister Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (wife Betsy)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
No. White Persons over 20 Who Cannot Read and Write: 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

Polly’s Life with William CLONCH

In 1850 Polly DOSS is seen in William CLONCH’s household with their four children who are seen with the DOSS surname. The fourth child, Jeremiah age 2, is believed to have died before the 1860 census as he is not listed in that census or later mentioned in the will of William CLONCH. Jeremiah was the name of William’s grandfather.

1850censusclonch
1850 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Mason > 38th District > Sheet No. 422A HH#842-853; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0959unix#page/n368/mode/1up : accessed 27 March 2014

During the 1850s Polly’s oldest brother Thomas moved with his family to Chariton County, Missouri. Her brother William and sister Elizabeth remained in Mason County.

By 1860 Polly was no longer using her nickname and is seen as Mary CLAUNCH (CLONCH). She is in William’s household with their children John W., Alex, Luvina, Elizabeth, Thos. E., Joel and Charles H. Also in the household was John W. CLARK age 64 whose relationship to the family has not been determined.

1860censusclonch
1860 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Mason > District 2 > Page 46 > HH#345-316; online https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu1361unix#page/n434/mode/1up : accessed 27 March 2014

Mary E. DOSS and her partner William CLONCH had four children before and four after the 1850 census. They are listed here with the surnames they were known to have used in later years.

  • John William CLONCH (1840-1919) born in December 1840
  • Alexander CLONCH (1842-1910) born 2 March 1842
  • Lavina Ann DOSS (1846-1945) born about 18 March 1846
  • Jeremiah DOSS born about 1847, died bet. 1850-1860
  • Elizabeth Jane “Betsy” CLONCH (1851-aft.1899) born about 1851
  • Joel CLONCH (1852-aft.1910) born in January 1852
  • Thomas Eli CLONCH (1852-1913) born in November 1852
  • Charles Henry CLONCH (1855-1925) born on 10 November 1855

The American Civil War period (4 Feb 1861-23 Jun 1865) brought changes for Mary E. DOSS and her family. Mary’s oldest son John William CLONCH married Sarah Jane FOSTER (1840- ) on 20 February 1862 in Gallia County, Ohio.

Less than a year later the father of her children, William CLONCH, died on 20 January 1863. William had the foresight [or maybe Mary influenced him] to write a will leaving his land to Mary and her children.

will
[Source: West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971; Mason Will book, v. 01A 1833-1875; Page 166-167 (image 104); online https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1-18256-40179-14?cc=1909099&wc=10916722%5D
There was a bit of trouble caused by his will. Mary’s step-daughter Mariah Jane also brought forward a will which was not admitted as the last will and testament. The will found in the Will Book is not an original, only a copy. William left his mark on the will and Matthias Long must have been the person who wrote the will for William. On the 1840 and 1850 censuses both adults in the household of William CLONCH could not read and write.

Life After William

I can’t imagine what Mary’s life would have been like if William had not left her the land that her children farmed. In 1863 Mary’s daughter Lavina Ann married James William PATTERSON (1836-1911) in Point Pleasant and her son Alexander married Mary Ellen LEMASTER (1847-1921) in Gallia County, Ohio. Alex’s marriage did not last as Mary Ellen was involved with her brother-in-law John whose marriage ended in divorce in 1864 when John and Mary Ellen moved in together. [A Little “Peyton Place” (Part II)]

By 1870 only three children were living at home with Mary: Joel, Elizabeth, and Charles Henry [who was mistakenly listed as Francis]. Next door was her sister Elizabeth DOSS with her second husband John STEED. Mary’s daughter Lavina was living with her husband in the same district several households away.

1870censusclonch
1870 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Clendenen > Sheet No. 147B > HH#228-230 [ancestry.com]
John W. and Mary Ellen and children; Alexander and Mary Ellen’s sister Rebecca and children; and Thomas Eli, who was single, were not located in the 1870 census. John’s son Emanuel was born in February 1870 in Mason County per his death register entry which places him in the county in 1870. How could it be that Mary’s three sons were missed? Could they have been omitted when the census was copied? Are they on the original census?

Life may appear to have been quiet during the 1870s for Mary and her family. There were no marriages but thirteen grandchildren were born. Her daughter Elizabeth Jane “Betsy” had two children out of wedlock. Alexander [who was still legally married to Mary Ellen] fathered two more children with Rebecca LEMASTER. John fathered five children with Mary Ellen. Only Lavina’s four children born in the 1870s were legitimate.

A Divorce and Two Marriages

The 1880s began with a divorce and two marriages.

Alexander CLONCH finally divorced Mary Ellen LEMASTER in March 1880 in Mason County, West Virginia. I wonder if he might have taken advice from his mother. Mary may have wished that William had done the same with his wife Ann Eliza HILL so that she could marry the father of her children.

At about the same time, Charles Henry CLONCH married Nancy Susan WOODS (1864-1928) on 24 March 1880 in Gallia County, Ohio, and Thomas Eli CLONCH married Missouri Catherine SCHULTZ (1862-1942) on 14 May 1880 in Gallia County, Ohio.

In 1880 Mary and all of her children except for John are enumerated on Sheet No. 245A+B in households #195-200 (Lavina), #197-202 (Alex), #198-203 (Thomas), #202-207 (Joel and Charles with their mother Mary) and #203-208 (Elizabeth Jane). Only Mary’s oldest son John W. CLONCH was in Cabell County with Alex’s ex-wife Mary Ellen LEMASTER with whom he now had seven children.

1880censusclonch2
1880 U.S. Federal Census > WV > Mason > Clendennin > ED 93 Sheet 245B HH#202-207 [ancestry.com]
Mary’s son Alexander married Tabitha Ann “Tobitha” COOLEY (1861-1913) on 19 August 1880 in Gallipolis, Gallia County, Ohio. He was the last of her children that she would see getting married.

As harsh as life could be for single women, they ironically possessed more rights than those who married. A single woman had her own legal identity, could enter into contracts and own property, allowing her to have some say over certain matters in her life.Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_10071412_life-like-single-women-1800s.html

Mary E. DOSS died before 1892 when her children are seen selling the land left to her in William CLONCH’s 1863 will to their sister Lavina. All of Mary’s children, except for young Jeremiah, survived her.

Joel who had remained single finally married in 1893 at the age of 41. John W. at long last married his Mary Ellen in 1895. Betsy who had a third child out of wedlock in 1884 married a man half her age in 1899 and disappeared [I have not been able to trace her after the marriage].

Mary E. DOSS’s children continued “to be fruitful and multiplied” bringing the total grandchildren to 60. The youngest and last surviving died in 1994.

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