Rewriting the Biography: Mildred “Milly” 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.

Mildred “Milly” SIMS was the 4th child and 3rd daughter of James SIMS and his second wife Elizabeth COTTON. Milly, as she was seen in the 1850 to 1880 census, was born about 1807.

The 1810 U.S. Federal Census

At the time of the 1810 census, she was about three years old and the youngest of the three females under the age of 10 in the household of her father James SIMS in Kanawha County.

1810 U.S. Federal Census of Kanawha County, Virginia for James SIMMS (top line) and his two oldest sons living in the state and county.

1810 U.S. Federal Census 1
Kanawha County, 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, Mildred)
Free White Persons – Females – 26 thru 44: 1 (Elizabeth)
Numbers of Slaves: 5 (Isaac, Black Jude, Black Fanny, Robert, and ?)
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

By 1820 Milly was thirteen years old and fitted into the 10 thru 15 years category on the census sheet. She was still living at home with her father James, mother Elizabeth, two brothers, three sisters, and nine slaves. The land James SIMS had bought in 1800 in Kanawha County was now part of Nicholas County which had been formed in 1818.

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

1820 U.S. Federal Census 2
Nicholas County, 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

On 12 November 1826, Milly SIMS and Joel SETTLE were married by John CAMPBELL. By 1830 the couple had two daughters under the age of 5. They likely lived on land owned by Joel’s father Abner SETTLE. Abner had added to James KELLY’s “improvement by making entries above and below it in 1823. The survey which followed in 1825 mentioned his fields and affirmed his ownership of the Kelly lands which, with the new additions, amounted to more than a hundred acres. One field in the mouth of Right Hand Fork was long known as Joel’s Field, named for Joel Settle, the settler’s son.3

1830 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Joel SETTLE (the image was very faint and exposure had to be adjusted).

1830 U.S. Federal Census4
Nicholas County, Virginia
Sheet 188, line 23
Enumeration Date: 1 June 1830
Name: Joel Settle
Free White Persons – Males – 20 thru 29: 1 (Joel)
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 2 (Mary Ann Elizabeth and Nancy)
Free White Persons – Females – 20 thru 29: 1 (Milly)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 4
Total – All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 4

The 1840 U.S. Federal Census

By 1840 Milly’s family had grown. There were three daughters and two sons now in the household.  One of the daughters who was seen with Milly and Joel in 1830 was likely Nancy R. who was born about 1830 – soon enough to be included in the 1830 census count but too late in the year to be considered as a 10-year-old in 1840.

The area of Nicholas County in which the family lived became part of Fayette County in 1831.

1840 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Joel SUTTLE

1840 U.S. Federal Census5
Fayette County, Virginia
Page 146, Line 4
Name: Joel Suttle
Free White Persons – Males – Under 5: 2 (Abner and Campbell)
Free White Persons – Males – 30 thru 39: 1 (Joel)
Free White Persons – Females – 5 thru 9: 2 (Nancy and Araminta Jane)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 14: 1 (Mary Ann Elizabeth)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (Milly)
Persons Employed in Agriculture: 1
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

The 1850 U.S. Federal Census

By 1850 Milly had given birth to eight children who were still living. Seven were living at home. Her oldest daughter Mary Ann Elizabeth had married Henry ARTHUR about 1846 and was living with him and their son several households away.

1850 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Joel SUTTLE household

1850 U.S. Federal Census6
Fayette County, Virginia
The 14th District
Sheet No. 366A, Lines 8-16, HH #463-463
Joel Suttle 44 M Farmer Virginia
Milly Suttle 44 F Virginia cannot read & write
Nancy R. Suttle 20 F Virginia cannot read & write
Jane Suttle 18 F Virginia
Abner Suttle 12 M Virginia
Campbell Suttle 11 M Virginia
Jas. Wesley Suttle 8 M Virginia
Francis A. Suttle 4 M Virginia
Joel D. Suttle 1 M Virginia

The 1860 U.S. Federal Census

Milly gave birth to one more child, a daughter, a couple of years after the 1850 census. She was the last of nine children.

In 1856 Joel bought fifty-two acres of bottom land in the small valley of a stream that came to be called Joel’s Branch but later was known as Taylor Branch, a left-hand branch of Jenkins Fork of Loop Creek.

Joel and Milly had five children still living at home. Abner was living with his wife and his brother Campbell next door and in the next household was their oldest daughter with her husband Henry ARTHUR. Only their daughter Nancy was away from the family. She had married William TINCHER of Greenbrier and was living with him and their two sons in a stable in that county.

1860 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, Virginia for Joel SETTLE, Abner SETTLE, and Henry ARTHUR households

1860 U.S. Federal Census7
Fayette County, Virginia
District 1, Fayetteville Post Office
Sheet No. 338, Page No. 28, HH #204-181
Joel Settle 53 M farmer $200 $100 Virginia cannot read & write
Milly Settle 52 F Virginia cannot read & write
Jane Settle 26 F Farm laborer Virginia cannot read & write
James Settle 18 M Farm laborer Virginia attended school
Berry Settle 15 M Farm laborer Virginia attended school
Dixon Settle 10 M Virginia attended school
Rebecca Settle 7 F Virginia attended school
Ellen Atkerson 18 F servant Virginia
Note: The column for literacy was for people over 20 years of age.

The 1870 U.S. Federal Census

Joel and his son Campbell cleared adjoining farms in the head of Open Fork, a small right-hand tributary to Loop Creek, a branch of Kanawha River in Fayette County, following the Civil War.

By 1870 only the two youngest children of Joel and Milly were living at home. Araminta Jane had married William Madison PRINCE soon after the 1860 census and was the mother of five. Abner had married Locky Jane PRINCE just before the 1860 census. Campbell Washington married Anna Elizabeth TAYLOR in 1864.  James Wesley married Mary Melvina BLAKE In 1866. Francis Asbury married Lucinda TREADWAY in 1867.

Mary Ann Elizabeth and her husband Henry ARTHUR were still living near her parents in household  #7. Nancy and her husband William TINCHER were in Greenbrier County.

1870 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, West Virginia for Joel SETTLE household

1870 U.S. Federal Census8
Fayette County, West Virginia
Falls of Kanawha Township
Gauley Bridge Post Office
Sheet No. 95B, Page No. 2, Lines 4-7, HH #8-8
Settle, Joel 63 M W farmer $150 $130 Virginia cannot read & write male US Cit. over 21 yo
Settle, Millie 63 F W housekeeper Virginia
Settle, Joel D. 20 M W farm laborer Virginia
Settle, Rebecca 18 F W housekeeper Virginia

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Joel and his son Campbell were the first settlers on Open Fork along with Joel’s son-in-law Henry ARTHUR but did not remain there. They moved away after Joel sold his improvement. This would be Joel and Milly’s last move as they ended their days at a place known as Millie’s Bottom or Milly Place opposite McVey Hollow.

Only the youngest daughter of Joel and Milly was still unmarried and living at home in 1880. Their youngest son Joel Dixon married Charlotte Marsh DARLINGTON in 1874. Their son James Wesley’s wife had died about 1871. He married Clarissa KILLINGSWORTH, a widow, in 1874. The marriage did not last long, perhaps ending with the death of Clarissa as James was listed as widowed when he married Martha Jane McKinney, a single lady, in 1875. James had three children from his first marriage. His oldest son has not been located but his daughter was in his household and his youngest son Charles Asbury was found with the SETTLE grandparents Joel and Milly in 1880.

1880 U.S. Federal Census of Fayette County, West Virginia for Joel SETTLE household

1880 U.S. Federal Census9
Fayette County, West Virginia
Fayetteville District
Enumeration District No. 27
Page No. 10, Sheet No. 17B, Lines 18-21, HH #64
Settle, Joel W M 73 married Farmer VA VA VA
Settle, Milly W F 73 wife married Keeping House WV VA VA
Settle, Rebeckey W F 26 daughter single At Home WV VA WV
Settle, Charley A. W M 10 grandson single WV WV WV

After the 1880 U.S. Federal Census

Milly’s husband Joel died in June 1881 and Milly followed in May 1882. They are said to be buried in Moseley Cemetery, Loop Creek in Fayette County but no stones mark their graves.

Milly had seen all of her children married and starting families of their own. Her son Campbell was widowed at the same time his father Joel died. He then married Mary Margaret FOSTER in March 1882. Milly and Joel’s youngest daughter Becky married Henry S. MITCHELL in April 1882, only a month before Milly’s death.

In the next installment James SIMS’ youngest daughter from his second marriage, Jane L. SIMS will be featured.

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

Rewriting the Biography: Mildred

  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.   L. Neil Darlington, Cabins of the Loop and Environs of the Southern Half of Fayette County Virginia (Now West Virginia), 1988, McClain Printing Company, Parsons, West Virginia, pgs. 246-247. 
  4. 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 Fim 0029677, NARA Roll M19_198, Virginia, Nicholas, images 33+34 of 42, page 188, line 23, Joel Settle. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 March 2018). 
  5. 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, image 15 of 54, page 146A+B, line 4, Joel Suttle. ‎(http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 April 2018). 
  6. 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; Image: 289; Virginia, Fayette, District 14, image 73 of 91, Sheet No. 366A, Lines 8-16, HH #463-463, Joel Suttle household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 June 2018). 
  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_1344; Page: 290; FHL Film: 805344; Virginia, Fayette, District 1, image 26 of 26, Sheet No. 338, Page No. 28, Lines 1-8, HH #204-181, Joel Settle household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 July 2018). 
  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_1686; History Library Film: 553185; West Virginia, Fayette, Falls of Kanawha, image 2 of 36, Page No. 2, Sheet No. 95B, Lines 4-7, HH #8-8, Joel Settle household. (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 July 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: 1402; West Virginia, Fayette, Fayetteville, image 10 of 46, Enumeration District No. 27, Page No. 10, Sheet No. 17B, Lines 18-21, HH #64, Joel Settle household. “.” (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 July 2018). 

52 Ancestors: #52 Levina DOSS – Another Unmarried Mother and How She Helped Me Bring This Challenge Finale to an End with a Bang!

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

I’d apologize for the long title but I couldn’t resist! Thank you, Amy Johnson Crow, for a wonderful journey. To all my readers, thank you for coming back time and time again. After reading the last entry for this year, I’d appreciate it if you would please leave a comment letting me know what you liked, disliked, loved or even hated about this challenge. Thank you and Happy New Year!

52 Ancestors: #52 Levina DOSS – Another Unmarried Mother and
How She Helped Me Bring This Challenge Finale to an End with a Bang!

One unmarried mother in my family tree would be easy to take. But two is a bit harder especially since they were mother and daughter. In July I wrote about my 3rd great-grandmother Mary E. “Polly” DOSS being a single mother. Her mother, my 4th great-grandmother, Levina DOSS was also a single mother.

Vapittsylvania
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Accessed online: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/File:Vapittsylvania.jpg

The Doss family had strong roots in Halifax and Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In 1755 Levina’s grandfather James DOSS Sr. 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).

Parents and Siblings of Levina DOSS

My 4th great-grandmother Levina DOSS was born between 1771-1775 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to James DOSS Jr. and his wife Elizabeth1. James was born about 1742 in Amelia County, he married Elizabeth about 1771 and died 1812 in Pittsylvania. Levina had 5 known siblings:

Sib 1: Elizabeth DOSS (1772-1830) born about 1772. Elizabeth DOSS married Ebenezer ANGEL (1769-1850) on 15 December 1794 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. She died between 1830-1840.
Sib 2: Phillip Valorius DOSS (1775-1814) born about 1775. Phillip married Rhoda Elizabeth THURMAN (1787-1850) about 1804 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He died before 14 June 1814 (date his widow Rhoda was mentioned in court records). Descendants of this line might be interested in some old photos that Vickie Beard Thompson posted on her blog I Dig My Roots and Branches.
Sib 3: Mary Ann DOSS (1780- ) born about 1780 [I am not very comfortable with this estimate considering her marriage in 1811]. She married(1) Preston DUDLEY (1773-1816) on 2 January 1811 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. She may have married(2) James BELL about 1820.
Sib 4: William DOSS (1785-1820) born about 1785. William married Martha CREWS (1789- ) on 29 April 1812 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.2 He died before 1820.
Sib 5: Edward DOSS (1795-1850) born about 1795. Edward married Nancy MITCHELL (1803-1860) on 19 December 1822 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. He died before 1850.

The 1790, 1800, and 1810 census of Pittsylvania County are lost but a substitute is available. The loss is unfortunate and the substitute is wonderful but doesn’t do for me what the 1810 census would have done. I was hoping to see what the household of James DOSS looked like in 1810 and if his daughter Levina had her own household or was living in her father’s home with her three children.

Levina’s father James DOSS Jr. died about 1812 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Levina’s Life as a Mother

In 1820 Levina DOSS was living in Pittsylvania County most likely on or near the land granted to her grandfather in 1755. She was an unmarried mother and the head of a household that included her four sons, two daughters, and most likely her mother Elizabeth who was widowed about 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

By 1830 Levina had given birth to another daughter she named after her mother. Young Elizabeth and my 3rd great-grandmother Mary E. were the only children still living at home. Next door was Levina’s son William with his wife and young son. Also next door was her brother-in-law Eben ANGEL, a Baptist minister, with his wife, Levina’s sister Elizabeth and their children.

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

As can be seen in the above listing Levina’s mother, or the older woman who had been seen in her household in 1820, was no longer with her. Let’s take a look at another person who was very close to Levina on this census.

1830doss
1830 U.S. Federal Census > VA > Pittsylvania (ancestry.com)

1830 United States Federal Census
Pittsylvania County, Virginia
Name: Bettsy Doss
Free White Persons – Females – Under 5: 2 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – 30 thru 39: 1 (unknown)
Free White Persons – Females – 70 thru 79: 1 (“Bettsy” widow of James DOSS)
Free White Persons – Under 20: 2
Free White Persons – 20 thru 49: 1
Total Free White Persons: 4

If the lady who was the head of household was also the older female then her age was 70 and under 80 years and could have been Levina’s widowed mother. Who was the younger lady living with Elizabeth in 1830? Was she a granddaughter with two small children? She couldn’t have been a daughter-in-law with such young children as Phillip and William died before 1820 and Edward was living in Campbell County.

Levina DOSS and her mother Elizabeth both died between 1830 and 1840.

Levina’s Children

In the 1830s Levina’s children Thomas, William, Polly, and Elizabeth 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 before the children moved. Only her son Phillip remained in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Child 1: Thomas DOSS (abt.1801-1881) born about 1801 in Pittsylvania County. 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. *The index of the marriage record at ancestry.com and at familysearch.org both have 8 February 1867 as the date of marriage. Ancestry.com has the image of the pages of the marriage record. These clearly show that they married on 28 April 1867.
Child 2: [–?–] (female) DOSS born bet. 1795-1804
Child  3: [–?–] (male) DOSS born bet. 1804-1810
Child  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. It is possible that his wife died as he married again on 28 December 1837 in Mason County to Elizabeth HENRY.3 William died 22 November 1888 in Mason County, West Virginia.4
Child 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.
Child 6: Mary E. “Polly” DOSS born about 1816 in Pittsylvania County, died bef. 1892 in Mason County, West Virginia. She never married but had eight children with William CLONCH.
Child 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 1880.5

The only documentation I have found for Levina are the two census listings in which she was named as the head of a household. None of her children’s marriage records have the name of their mother listed. No death records were found for her children. All of her known children died after 1880 and before 1900.

Credits and a New Cousin

While preparing to write this last blog post for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge I learned Libbie Griffin started up the Doss Family Association in 1994 for the purpose of sharing information among all Doss descendants. She should be credited for researching and compiling genealogical information was published in their newsletter The Doss Connection. In our world of social media today it is so easy to find other researchers but what do you do when the person has “retired” her hobby? If I can find my ancestors shouldn’t I be able to find Libbie? In the days prior to Facebook, Twitter, etc. we used the messages boards and mailing lists. I searched through them until I found the most recent email address.

A Christmas Present and the Grand Finale

Saturday before Christmas I got an early present. Libbie replied to my email and told me about a bundle she found which included depositions that proved many connections in the Virginia Doss families.

“On one trip to Richmond for research I discovered that the information I needed to find the original papers was in Lynchburg, more than 100 miles away.  I went there and obtained the detailed title of the case and case number.  When I returned to Richmond the next day with that information I was handed a bundle of papers that had not been opened since a string was tied around them nearly 200 years earlier….I can’t tell you how excited I was!”

Reading this gave me goosebumps. Isn’t it the dream of all genealogists to find the mother lode? She told me she had written an entire issue of The Doss Connection about the find with transcripts of the important documents. She offered to scan and email it to me. YES! Thank you very much! She also wrote, “It felt wonderful to be reminded of that ‘find’.”

ScreenClip
The Doss Connection, Vol. 2 No. 1 July 1996, bottom of page 2. Used with permission of Libbie Griffith.

What Libbie found was a bundle that has not been scanned and therefore is not available in the Library of Virginia‘s collection of Chancery Records which are online. The case details of the bundle are indexed online here. In the issue of the newsletter Libbie sent to me, pages 2-12, 17-18, and 22 were filled with information on the case and the families involved. A plat drawing of the land in question was included:

ScreenClip
The Doss Connection, Vol. 2 No. 1 July 1996, bottom of page 4. Used with permission of Libbie Griffith.

Although I would love to share all of the information found in this issue of The Doss Connection I have chosen to only share excerpts, with Libbie’s permission, concerning my 4th great-grandmother Levina Doss. First, the deposition given by Levina, spelled Lavina in this excerpt, and second, the deposition of her mother Elizabeth. Words in brackets are Libbie’s and some punctuation and spelling corrections were made for easier reading but doesn’t change the meaning:

The Testimony of Lavina Doss
Deposition taken in Pittsylvania Co., Va., 7 May 1817: Lavina Doss … deposeth and sayeth that in the last sickness of her Grandfather, James Doss Senr. & but a Short time before his death, he sent for her Father James Doss Junr to come & see him, accordingly he went & this deponant went with him & we both went together, into the room where my Grandfather lay alone. He spoke to my father & said I am glad to see you Jamey, I have been uneasy & have sent for you to have some talk with you about our affairs. I am about soon to leave you my son & want you to have your rite. I know that I am owing you money that ought to have been paid before now but it was not in my power to do it, but I have now directed my Ext [Executor] to pay you without putting you to any trouble about it. As to the land, it is yours. It was gave to you & I wish you to have it for you have an undoubted rite to it & cannot be kept out of it after my death, your uncle Edward Nicks, gave you the land by Deed of Gift & I have no Claim to it any longer than I live; altho I have directed the land to [defer?, unclear] other ways than I ought to have done, it is not intended to keep you out of your Rite, but only to try to keep peace a little longer over my old head, for I wish to leave my family in peace & I know you will get the land after my death — altho it may put you to the trouble of goin’ or sending for the deed of gift, which I did no want you to have the trouble of. But for the sake of peace in my family, I could not help doing as I have, you know when I agreed to give you up the land below the Shop branch, what an oneasiness [uneasiness] & interruptions it made in my family, till you consented for the business to rest as it was till my death.

This deponent further sayeth that in the life time of the said James Doss Senr. he frequently said that the land belonged to his son James Doss Junr. after his death, that it was gave to him by uncle Edward Nicks and that he held no claim to it any longer than life. This deponent further states that her grandfather James Doss senr. dec’d., put her father James Doss Junr. into possession of the said land below the Shope branch, as above mentioned, & her father began to run a fence on the said land, but was stopped at the request of his father, on account of the disturbance & uneasiness it made in his family, but told my father, James Doss Junr. he would get the whole of the said land after his death. [signed: Lavina (X) Doss, her mark]

Notes (by Libbie): We should keep in mind that Lavina had something of a vested interest in the outcome of this case, and might have stressed her father’s right in the land a bit overmuch. In addition to providing us with an account of James Sr.’s last day, and his love for and concern for his family, Lavina’s testimony also tells what we had previously suspected: that although Lavina had 5 or 6 children, she never married. More on her family appears later in this issue.”

The Testimony of Elizabeth Doss
“Pittsylvania County, 27 September, 1816 [omitting the beginning]…. the tract of land in the bill mentioned was in the possession of my husband James Doss Junr. at the time of his death but was afterward sold (sometime in the year of 1812) at publick sale to the hightest bidder, subject to my dower, by the defendant Samuel Pannill, under a deed of trust executed by my said husband James Doss Junr. to the said Samuel Pannill to secure the payment of a debt due from my husband….to David Pannill’s Estate … neither the said complainant [Nathan Thurman] nor any other person forbid the sale, but since the sale the said Complainant Nathan Thurmon [sic] hath applied to this Respondent to purchase the dower land she holds in her possession & having thus fully answered this Respondant prayes to be hence  dismissed with her Costs. [signed: Elizabeth (X) Doss, her mark]

Note (by Libbie): Elizabeth was taxed for 56 acres until 1827, when this land was taken by the county (see Pittsylvania Co. Deed Bk. 28, p. 121). She and her children and grandchildren may have continued to live there afterward.”

This post was ready for publication before I heard from Libbie. I did not want to change what was written and have added footnotes to items which have additional remarks or information.

I’m going to let Libbie have the final word.

“I’m sure you can imagine it how hard it was for me to keep from cheering loudly in the hushed halls of the Virginia State Library when I cut that string and read those old documents!  A similar experience led me to the answers I needed about my own Doss family.  It’s amazing what’s there to find if we look long enough.”

Genealogy Sketch

Name: Levina DOSS
Parents: James DOSS Jr. and his wife Elizabeth
Spouse: not applicable
Children: Thomas, William, Phillip Valorius, Mary E. “Polly”, and Elizabeth “Betty”
Surnames: Doss, Clonch, Roop, Dempsey, Eads, Rodman, Barber, Bailess, Steed
Relationship to Cathy Meder-Dempsey:
4th Great-grandmother

1. Levina DOSS
2. Mary E. “Polly” DOSS
3. Alexander CLONCH
4. Rebecca Jane CLONCH
5. Myrtle Hazel ROOP
6. Fred Roosevelt DEMPSEY
7. Cathy Meder-Dempsey

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

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


  1. The wife of James DOSS Jr. is seen in many family trees as Elizabeth LESTER. Libbie Griffin gives strong evidence that she was the daughter of Thomas LESTER, however stressed that the maiden name is unproved. “Thomas LESTER purchased the land of George Wilcocks, adjacent to James Doss Sr., in 1779 (Pittsylvania Deed Bk. 5, p. 137). Lester was dead by March 1789 when his widow Lithe (probably Elizabeth’s step-mother) married John Ballinger. In 1824 Elizabeth Doss and John and Anna Lester sold what appears to be the same land to Asa Craddock (Pitts. Co. Deed Bk. 26, p. 224). This suggests that she was the sister of either John Lester or his wife Ann Minter Lester. Lester’s lived near (adjoining?) James Doss Jr.” [Source: Libbie Griffin, The Doss Connection, Vol. 2. No. 1, page 8] 
  2. Ibid. 
  3.  The death record of William DOSS’s daughter Sarah Jane NEVILLE shows her mother was Elizabeth HENRY. Therefore all children seen with William and Elizabeth in 1850 were from his 2nd marriage except for sons John 22 and William 14. 
  4.  According to Libbie’s article, William DOSS died 21 November 1888. His death record names “Lavina” as his mother, father unknown, and indicates he was born in 1812. [Source: Libbie Griffin, The Doss Connection, Vol. 2. No. 1, page 17] 
  5. Libbie believed Levina’s youngest daughter seen in the 1830 census may have died young. She may not have had all the information on marriages of DOSS individuals in Mason County, West Virginia, and Gallia County, Ohio, where many residents of Mason married. It is my belief Elizabeth was this young daughter, named after her grandmother, and she came to Mason County with her brothers and sister in the 1830s, most likely before December 1837 when brother William married Elizabeth HENRY.