52 Ancestors: #49 Sarah COCKRAM, wife of David PROFFITT

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

Can you believe it’s December and time for the last four ancestors in this wonderful challenge?

#49 Sarah COCKRAM, wife of David PROFFITT

My 4th great-grandmother Sarah COCKRAM was most likely the youngest daughter of Edward COCKRAM (1748-1816) and his wife Mary (d. aft. 1816).

Edward COCKRAM was born on 7 June 1748 in Newport, Charles County, Maryland.1

Others who have researched this family have claimed Edward Cockram’s wife, Mary, was an Edwards and sometimes an Isham, although never with any documentation for this claim. ~ Truman Adkins

In May 1999 Truman Adkins made this statement in a study he wrote titled “Edward and Nathan Cockram.” In his write-up, he discussed evidence he found that led to his conclusion that Edward was the son of Nathan COCKRAM and his wife Sarah who married Mr. HARRIS after Nathan’s death in 1778. Mr. Adkins did a remarkable job of studying deed, plea, will, and county order books from 1764 through 1816.2 He posted an update on the Floyd County, Virginia, mailing list in December 1999.3 The evidence he presented clearly proves his case. The birth/christening record in Maryland with Edward’s parents as Nathan and Sarah still needs supporting evidence, i.e. proof that Nathan and Sarah came from or through Maryland.

revEdward COCKRAM was a Revolutionary War soldier in the 1st Virginia Regiment. He joined George Rogers Clark on his expedition into the northwest territory to wrest the forts from the British in what is now Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.4 His name was spelled COCHRAN on this payroll of Botetourt County’s Capt. Isaac Taylor’s Company of Volunteers in the Illinois Regiment commanded by Colonel John Montgomery. He was a private, enlisted on 29 January 1779, and discharged on 22 August 1780 after serving 206 days, his pay being 13 £ 14 shilling 8 pence.5

Edward Cockram, Sr. lived on the lower waters of Shooting Creek near where the creek enters Smith’s River. The old home was on the east slope of Renfro Ridge.6

He paid taxes in Franklin County, Virginia, is 1788 and 1799 as seen here:

1788taxcochran
1788 Personal Property List B for Franklin County, Virginia
1799taxcochran
1799 Personal Property Tax List A for Franklin County, Virginia

Of course, he paid taxes in other years but these are the only two that are online. UPDATE: In March 2021 I discovered the Personal Property tax lists for nearly all Virginia and West Virginia counties are online at FamilySearch up to at least 1851. Edward was found in Franklin County every year from 1787 until 1816, the year he died. From 1809 until his death he was levy free.7

By 1810 both he and his wife were getting into their sixties and still had three daughters living at home. One of these would have been my 4th great-grandmother Sarah who would marry in 1813.

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

1810 U.S. Federal Census8
Franklin County, Virginia
Name: Edward Cochran
Free White Persons – Males – 45 and over: 1 (Edward)
Free White Persons – Females – 10 thru 15: 2 (Charlotte and Sarah b. abt. 1794-1800)
Free White Persons – Females – 16 thru 25: 1 (Mary b. abt. 1785-1794)
Free White Persons – Females – 45 and over : 1 (wife, Mary)
Number of Household Members Under 16: 2
Number of Household Members Over 25: 2
Number of Household Members: 5

Edward COCKRAM died between 26 May 1816, the date he wrote his will, and 1 July 1816, the date it was proved. He was buried in a cemetery on the Franklin and Patrick County line 1/2 mile east of Road #820.9

Last Will and Testament of Edward Cockram, 1816 – Franklin County, Virginia10
In the name of God Amen, I Edward Cockram Senr. of the county of Franklin and State of Virginia being weak of body but of perfect memory and calling to mind the mortality of my body and that it is appd onst for all men to die, have made this my last will and testament. Fir of all I resign my Soul into the hands of Almighty God who give it me, and my body to be Buried in Christian like Manner at the discretion of my Executors, nothing doubting but I shall receive the same again by the might power of God at the General Reseraction at the last Day. And as touching my worldly Estate whare with it has bin Please to Bless me with, I give and bequeath it in the following manner that is to say, I give and Bequeth my whole Estate – real and personal to my Beloved wife Mary so long as she lives and after her Disseas the whole that is left Land and other Property of every kind to be sold at publick Auction on a Credit of twelve months by giving Bond and approved Security and the money arising from such Sale to be Equally divided between my ten Children namely: Leah Pedigo, Nathan, Isham, Rachel Wood, wife of Richard Wood; Lydia, Preston, Mary, Edward, Charlotte, Sarah Proffitt. Also I appoint my wife Executrix Nathan my son Executor of this my last will and testament. Signed, Sealed and Acknowledged this twenty-sixth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand and eight hundred and sixteen.
(Signed) Edward Cockram
Teste: Thomas Hale, Brice Edwards, John Wood
Proved: July 1, 1816

His wife Mary was mentioned in the will and died after 7 February 1820 when she was visited for the personal property tax list.11

From Truman Adkins’ work, I know that Edward and Mary were married as early as 1786 as they are seen selling land in Henry County. Edward Cockram and his wife, Mary, convey to Preston Kendrick 50 acres on the south side of Smiths River for 15 pounds. The property description is: “Beginning at the Loer Small pond in the lo ground of the river thence north to the back line thence east to Edwards line thence along Edwards line to the river, down Smiths river to the beginning.” Both sign by a mark “X”. With the witnesses being Gabreal Roberts and Joseph Goodwin, the deed was recorded on 27 July 1786.12

More importantly, Edward mentioned his 10 children by name. Was the wife Mary mentioned in Edward’s will the mother of all of his children? If he listed them in order of birth, then my 4th great-grandmother Sarah was the youngest of the bunch and definitely Mary’s child as she was born after 1786.

After locating the census listings of most of the children I wonder if they might not have been listed in the exact order of birth. I mostly had pre-1850 censuses to work from which gave only age ranges, making it impossible to draw up close estimations on the years of birth. Update: As the PPT lists were checked, the four sons of Edward and Mary were found in the year they would have been 21 allowing a more precise estimate for their years of birth: Nathan abt. 1772, Isham abt. 1773, Preston abt. 1778, and Edward Jr. abt. 1784.

◉ Child 1: Leah COCKRAM (1770-1840) was born about 1770 or as early as 1765 (1810 age 45 & over). She married Henry PEDIGO ( -1810) on 17 November 1790 in Franklin County, Virginia.13 She was widowed before the 1810 census as she was seen in Barren County, Kentucky, in 1810 (4 boys and 3 girls) and 1820 with her own household.14,15 I have not been able to locate her in 1830.

◉ Child 2: Nathan COCKRAM (1772-1860) was born about 1772 (1793 PPT age 21, 1850 census age 80). Nathan married Bathsheba PEDIGO on 12 January 1798 in Patrick County, Virginia.16 He died on 19 May 1860 in Patrick County, Virginia. In the death register, his parents were listed as Edward and Mary COCKRAM.17

◉ Child 3: Isham COCKRAM (1773-1860) was born about 1773 (1794 PPT age 21, 1850 census age 77). He married Sarah RAKES in March 1795 in Patrick County, Virginia.18 He died on 2 October 1860 in Patrick County, Virginia.19

◉ Child 4: Rachel COCKRAM (1775-1823) was born about 1775. Rachel married Richard “Dickey” WOOD (1774-1859) in about 1797. She died 13 December 1823 in Patrick County, Virginia.20

◉ Child 5: Lydia COCKRAM (1791-1860) was born before 1785. She married Henry PEMBERTON, most likely before 1803 as she had two daughters born before 1805. She had 4 children under 10 in 1810 and was in the 16-25 yrs. range; 1820 age 26-44; 1830 age 40-49; [and then it gets complicated] 1840 age 60-69; 1850 age 59; and 1860 age 90! Lydia died between 1860-1870 in Casey County, Kentucky.

◉ Child 6: Preston COCKRAM (1778-1840) born about 1778 (1799 PPT age 21). He married(1) Susannah PEMBERTON (1778-1829) in about 1800. He married(2) Mary Elisabeth EDWARDS on 16 June 1832 in Barren County, Kentucky.21 Preston died about 1842 in Barren County, Kentucky.

◉ Child 7: Mary COCKRAM may have been born between 1785-1794 (per 1810). No further information was found.

◉ Child 8: Edward COCKRAM (1786-1867) was born about 1786 (1805 PPT age 21). Edward married Mary RAKES on 1 November 1806 in Patrick County, Virginia.22 He died before 31 January 1866 in Patrick County, Virginia.23

◉ Child 9: Charlotte COCKRAM (1794- ) born between 1794-1800 (per 1810). She married James PARKER ( -1822) on 9 September 1818 in Franklin County, Virginia, and was widowed 4 years later.24.25 No information was found on Charlotte.

◉ Child 10: Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM was born between 1794-1800 in Franklin County, Virginia. She was my 4th great-grandmother and the subject of this post.

The War of 1812 (18 Jun 1812-24 Dec 1814) was in full swing when Edward and Mary’s daughter Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM married David PROFFITT on 21 October 1813 in Franklin County, Virginia.26 In 1850 she was listed on the census as 47 years old and in 1860 as 57. This would put her year of birth at 1803 which is very unlikely as she would have been only 10 years old when she married. From 1830 to 1840 her age range remained the same on the census. Could it be that once she passed 40 she began fibbing about her age?

Sally and David had two daughters, Hessie (1814) and Rachel (1817), by the time the 1820 census was enumerated.27 My 3rd great-grandmother Rachel was likely named after Sally’s sister Rachel – could she, in turn, have been named after her maternal grandmother, Mary’s mother, who is not known?

The 1820s saw the birth of three sons, Austin (1822), Preston (1825), and David (1827), and a daughter who remains unknown. Austin and David are names from the PROFFITT side of the family, the father and grandfather of David PROFFITT. Was Preston the first name of the maternal grandfather, Mary’s father, who is not known?

Sally and David continued to name children after their parents with the birth of their son Edward (1831) who was named after Edward COCKRAM. They then ran out of parents and grandparents and named the last two children Samuel (1837) and Stabina (1840).

Samuel became a very popular name in the PROFFIT family. Six boys were named Samuel in a 15-year period from 1853 through 1878 – you can imagine the confusion they caused in the family tree. If Truman Adkins had not established that Nathan COCKRAM was the father of Edward one might consider all the unsourced family trees that list Samuel COCKRAM as his father ~ or maybe not!

Sally’s oldest daughter  Hessie “Esther” married Owen STEVENS (1821-1900) on 19 August 1835 in Franklin County, Virginia.28 She made Sally and David grandparents to two granddaughters before they completed their own family.

When Sally’s second daughter Rachel married the twice-widowed Jordan N. PETERS on 8 December 1841 in Franklin County, 11 step-grandchildren joined the family.29 Jordan’s oldest daughter was about the same age as his bride Rachel and his youngest was only two years old.

Three of Sally’s sons married in the 1840s: Preston married Martha WRIGHT (1820-1880) on 1 June 1844 in Floyd County.30 Austin married Vincey NEWBERRY (1827-1910) on 14 September 1844 in Franklin County.31 Edward “Ned” married Sarah “Sally” KEEN (1825- ) on 6 January 1848 in Tazewell County.32 The locations of these marriages coincide with the move of the PROFFITT family from Franklin County to Russell County.

Sally saw three more of her children marry before 1860. Stabina/Statina married Jessee R. MUSICK on 13 September 1855 in Russell County.33 Two of her sons married PINION ladies however marriage records were not found. David married Jane PINION before 1855. Her maiden name was found on the 1933 death certificate of their son William.34 Samuel married Tabitha PINION before 1860. Samuel and Tabitha were found in the 1860 census with a little girl with the surname PINION.35 This led to the 1850 census listing of Tabitha PINION. This may not be a reliable method of determining a maiden name but in this case, the names were not common and the method worked.36

Sarah “Sally” COCKRAM died between 1860 and 1870. Her husband David PROFFITT followed her during the 1870s decade. They were survived by all of their children except possibly Stabina who died on 15 October 1874 in Lawrence County, Kentucky, while bearing a child.37

The dates of death of many of their children are not known but they appear to have all lived long lives. My 3rd great-grandmother Rachel was 88 and her brother Austin was in his nineties when they died.

This Post was Updated on 4 December 2022Missing source citations were added, images were scaled, and some corrections were made to the text and format.

© 20142022, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.


  1. Harrison, Lucy H. (Lucy Harwood) – copied in 1906 by L. H. Harrison, “Trinity Parish, 1729-1826, 1750 to 1797, Charles County, Maryland,” searchable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/429012), citing microfilm of copy at Maryland State Historical Society, Baltimore, Maryland, Film 13759 Item 2, DGS 7575957, image 233 of 599, page 179, 2nd entry from bottom, Edward Cockram son of Nathan and Sarah Cockram was born June the 7th 1748. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99XW-XH3T?i=232 : accessed 6 March 2020). 
  2. Truman Adkins, “Edward and Nathan Cockram,” 26 May 1999,(http://files.usgwarchives.net/va/patrick/bios/cockram1.txt : accessed 1 December 2014). 
  3. Truman Adkins, “[VAFLOYD] Edward and Nathan Cockram,” 15 Dec 1999, VAFLOYD RootsWeb Mailing List Archives,
    (https://mlarchives.rootsweb.com/listindexes/emails?listname=vafloyd&thread=17004433 : accessed 14 November 2022) 
  4. “U.S., Compiled Revolutionary War Military Service Records, 1775-1783,” database, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1309/); citing National Archives; Washington, D.C.; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War; Record Group Title: War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records; Record Group Number: 93; Series Number: M881; NARA Roll Number: 1086. Virginia > Clark´s Illinois Regiment, Virginia State Troops > A – Z > image 533+534 of 2546 > Edward Cockren > two cards (accessed 14 November 2022). 
  5. Margaret Heberling Harding, George Rogers Clark and His Men: Military Records, 1778-1784, The Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY, 1981, page 13, Document 52 (transcription of original records). 
  6. Dr. Amos D. Wood, Floyd County: A History of Its People and Places, page 37. Commonwealth Press, 1981. 
  7. Virginia Commissioner of the Revenue (Franklin County), “Personal property tax lists, 1786-1850,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/776095), citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia. Personal property tax lists, 1786-1803 and Personal property tax lists, 1804-1821 were browsed and URLs to all entries for Cockrahm, Cockram, and Cockran were recorded. 
  8. 1810 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7613/), citing Third Census of the United States, 1810 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. NARA microfilm publication M252, 71 rolls, Roll M252_68, FHL Film 0181428, image: Vam252_68-0607, Virginia, Franklin County, page 316 (stamped on previous page), sheet 494 (handwritten in right margin), line 9, Edward Cokran Sr. (accessed 25 November 2014). 
  9. National Cemetery Administration, Nationwide Gravesite Locator, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (https://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/ngl/), Cochran, Edward; Continental Line; Revolutionary War; 1748-1816; Cemetery: RD # 820, Franklin County, Virginia 23851. 
  10. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” (index and images), Ancestry, citing original data of Virginia County, District, and Probate Courts, Franklin County, Virginia, Franklin Will Books, Vol 1-2, 1786-1825, Will Book 2, page 148-150, images 340+341 of 590, 1816 Edward Cockram will. (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007644994_00340 : accessed 31 August 2019). 
  11. “Personal property tax lists, 1786-1850,” Film 2024541, DGS 7849116, Franklin County Personal property tax lists, 1804-1821, image 756 of 847, PPT List 1820B, 7 Feb 1820 Mary Cockran 0 0 0 1. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSQK-5S9P-V?cat=776095 : accessed 17 November 2022). 
  12. “Deed books, 1777-1868; general indexes to deeds, 1777-1950,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/406614), citing microfilm of original records at the Henry County Courthouse in Martinsville, Virginia, Deed books, v. 1-3 1777-1789, image 594 of 754, Deed Book 3, page 225-226, 1786 Kendrick from Cockram 50 acres in Henry County, Virginia (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS42-GSNQ-1?i=593&cat=406614: accessed 18 November 2022). 
  13. “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” database with images, FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia., Film 31523 Item 1, DGS 7578970, Marriage bonds register 1786-1853, image 95 of 608, page 76, line 3241, Henry Perego and Leah Cockram married by Randolph Hall 17 Nov 1790. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9XF-VX19?i=94 : accessed 17 November 2022). 
  14. 1810 U.S. Federal Census, Roll M252_5, FHL Film 0181350, image: Kym252_5-0055, Kentucky, Barren County, page 94, line 5, Leah Pedigo (accessed 4 December 2014). 
  15. 1820 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), <i>Ancestry</i> (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7734/), citing Fourth Census of the United States, 1820 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls, NARA Roll: M33_17, Kentucky, Barren County, sheet 23 (stamped), line 35, Leah Pedigo (accessed 4 December 2014). 
  16. “Marriage registers, 1791-1923 ; index to births, marriages, deaths 1853-1912” (browse-only images), FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1155418), citing microfilm of original records at the Patrick County Courthouse in Stuart, Virginia, Film 33351 Item 1, DGS 7579037, Marriage register, no. 1, 1791-1822, image 43 of 457, page 22, line 152, Nathan Cockram and Bathsheba Pedigo 12 Jan 1798. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-RN2Q?i=42&cc=4149585 : accessed 18 November 2022). 
  17. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia)” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/780106), Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia., Film 2048578, DGS 4225402, Patrick County 1853-1889, image 586 of 698, Death Register 1860, no page number, line 12, Nathan Cockram, 19 May 1860, old age, 97, parents, Edward and Mary Cockram, informant Spencer Cockram, son. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6WMQ-1V?i=585 : accessed 18 November 2022). 
  18. This date and place is seen in many online trees. I have not been able to find a source to confirm it. 
  19. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/189635134/isham-cockram: accessed 27 November 2022), memorial page for Isham Cockram (1773–2 Oct 1860), Find a Grave Memorial ID 189635134, citing Isham Cockram Family Cemetery, Patrick County, Virginia, USA; Maintained by Ann Lanoue and Evan LaVan (contributor 48340157). No grave marker to confirm the date of death. 
  20. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/53846242/rachel-wood: accessed 27 November 2022), memorial page for Rachel Cockram Wood (unknown–13 Dec 1823), Find a Grave Memorial ID 53846242, citing Wood’s Gap Cemetery, Patrick County, Virginia, USA; Maintained by Jenepher & Sandford McElheny (contributor 46630390). Photo of marker by Jenepher & Sandford McElheny (contributor 46630390) confirms the date of death. 
  21. “Marriage bonds, 1848-1934; marriage file, 1799-1870; marriage register, 1799-1900; and marriage index, 1798-1960,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/131379), citing microfilm of original and typescript at the Barren County courthouse in Glasgow, Kentucky; and at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort, Film 209752, DGS 5552449, Marriage file, Vol. 5 1828-1834, image 657-658 of 1255, Preston Cockram and James F Edwards went bond on the marriage of Preston Cockram and Elizabeth Edwards on 16 Jun 1832. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89S9-PK42?i=657&cc=1804888 : accessed 18 November 2022). 
  22. “Marriage bonds and ministers’ returns, 1791-1853,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1155443), citing microfilm of original records at the Patrick County Courthouse in Stuart, Virginia, Film 2056466, DGS 8151997, Index to marriage bonds — Marriage bonds and ministers’ returns 1791-1830 no. 1-648, image 575 of 796, Edward Cockram and Charles Rakes went bond on 1 Nov 1806 for the marriage of Edward Cockram and Mary Rakes. Charles Rakes gives his consent for the marriage of his daughter Mary. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSKJ-T9FF-L?i=574&cat=1155443 : accessed 19 November 2022). 
  23. “Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983,” Patrick County, Wills, Inventories and Accounts, Vol 6 1860-1867, image 283 of 341, Book 6, page 478, 31 Jan 1866 inventory and appraisement of the estate of Edward Cockram ordered.  (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/9085/images/007676284_00283 : accessed 27 November 2022). 
  24. “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Franklin County Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 815 of 880, James Parker and William Moore went bond 9 Sep 1818 for the marriage of James Parker and Charlotte Cockram. ((https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-8426?i=814&cat=765574 : accessed 19 November 2022) : accessed 19 November 2022). 
  25. “Order books, 1786-1865,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/397106), citing microfilm of original records at the Franklin County Courthouse in Rocky Mount, Virginia, Film 31518, DGS 8141192, Order books 1822-1835, image 102 of 803, page 57, September Court 1822, William Newberry charged with felonious homicide in the killing of James Parker 22 Sep 1822. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSK4-6S35-T?i=101&cat=397106 : accessed 18 November 2022). 
  26. “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” Film 1977991, DGS 7490230, Franklin County Marriage bonds 1813-1818, image 45 and 46 of 880, 1813 David Profit and Elisha Rakes bond for the marriage of David Profit and Sarah Cockram. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99ZG-84FM?i=45&cat=765574 : accessed 18 June 2022). 
  27. 1820 U.S. Federal Census, NARA Roll: M33_136, image 179, Virginia, Franklin County, page 161 (stamped), line 15, David Proffit (accessed 7 February 2020). 
  28. “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” Film 1977996, DGS 7490235, Franklin County Marriage bonds 1835-1838, images 202-203 of 784, 19 Aug 1835, Owen Stephens and David Prophet went bond for the marriage of Owen Stephens and Hessie Prophet. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99ZG-HWWS?cat=765574 : accessed 13 November 2022). 
  29. “War of 1812 Pension Files,” database and images, Fold3, citing “War of 1812 Pension and Bounty land Warrant Application Files,” compiled ca. 1871–1900, documenting the period 1812–ca.1900, National Archives, Washington, D.C., original data from The National Archives (http://www.archives.gov), RG15-1812PB-Bx2693, National Archives Catalog ID: 564415, service of Jordan N. Peters (Pvt Capt Robert Hairston Va Militia, War of 1812), includes several dates for the marriage. (https://www.fold3.com/image/642937397 : accessed 27 March 2022). 
  30. Rena Worthen & Barbara Reininger (co-project), “Index to Marriages of Floyd County, Virginia 1831-1940 (and few others too),” index and images, part of the Floyd County, Virginia, The USGenWeb Project (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/floyd.htm), citing the images of Floyd Co., VA marriages downloaded by Rena Worthen from the Library of Virginia Microform indexed by Barbara Reininger., FCVA1844_13: Preston Proffitt and David Proffitt went bond on the marriage of Preston Proffitt and Martha Wright on 1 Jun 1844. (https://sites.rootsweb.com/~vafloyd/Mar%20FCVA1844/FCVA1844_13.jpg : accessed 13 November 2022). 
  31. “Marriage bond register, 1786-1853; loose marriage bonds and licenses, 1785-1900,” Film 1977998; DGS 7490240, Franklin County Marriage bonds 1842-1844, images 809-812 of 879, 14 Sep 1844, Austin Profit and John A. Newberry went bond on the marriage of Austin Profit to Viney Newberry. Parent of both gave their permission. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZG-H49J?i=809&cat=765574 : accessed 9 November 2022). 
  32. “Marriage registers, 1800-1920 ; index to marriages, 1800-1939,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/473283), citing microfilm of original records at the Tazewell County Courthouse in Tazewell, Virginia, Film 34214 Item 4, DGS 4284960, Marriage register no. 2 1845-1858, page 18, Edward Prophet and Sarah Keen January 6th 1848 by William McGuire. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-6LC9-JDD?i=395 : accessed 14 November 2022). 
  33. “Marriage registers, 1853-1908, 1936-1951; general index to marriage licenses, 1853-1930, 1971-1973,” searchable images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/1115900), citing microfilm of original records at the Russell County Courthouse in Lebanon, Virginia, Film 33850 Item 3, DGS 7579055, Register of marriages, v. 2, 1853 (Apr.)-1908 (Dec.)., image 489 of 734, page 4, line 28, 13 Sep 1855, Jesse R. Musick and Statina Proffitt, parents Jas. & Margaret Musick, parents David & Sarah Proffett, married by E. Farrell. (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89XF-2XGX?i=488&cat=1115900 : accessed 14 November 2022). 
  34. West Virginia Vital Research Records Project (database and images), West Virginia Division of Culture and History citing county records in county courthouses, West Virginia (A collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah to place vital records online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site accessible at https://archive.wvculture.org/vrr), West Virginia Deaths, 1804-1999, FHL microfilm 1953777, image 1148, Certificate of Death 15620, D. D. Prophett, parents Dave Prophett and Jane Pinion. (http://images.wvculture.org/1953777/0001148.gif : accessed 18 November 2022). 
  35. 1860 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/7667/), citing Eighth Census of the United States, 1860 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M653, 1,438 rolls, M653_1376, Family History Library Film 805376, Virginia, Russell County, page 121, household 815-815, line 18-21, Samuel Proffitt (accessed 19 June 2014). 
  36. 1850 U.S. Federal Census (index and images), Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/8054/), citing Seventh Census of the United States, 1850 population schedule, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., NARA microfilm publication M432, 1009 rolls, Roll: M432_975, Virginia, Russell County, sheet 235B, household 235-235, line 22-28, Thomas Pinnion (accessed 19 November 2022). 
  37. “Kentucky, U.S., Death Records, 1852-1965”, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1222/), citing Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky, Death Records, 1852-1910 > all counties > Film 994044: Knox, Larue, Laurel, Lawrence > image 712 of 737 > Death Register 1974, line 34, 15 Oct 1874 Statira Music, 34, child bearing, daughter of David & Sally Prophet both born VA.  (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1222/images/KYVR_994044-0712 : accessed 19 June 2014). 

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

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

This is entry #25 in Amy Johnson Crow’s Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rachel Marries at 24

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

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

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

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

The Civil War Years

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

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

Rachel’s Children Marry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rachel and Jordan’s Later Years

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

Rachel Has Difficulties Getting her Widow’s Pension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pension Odyssey Continues Following Rachel’s Death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The War of 1812 Pension Application Files

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

#13 Milla Susan “Millie” PETERS 1856-1891

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

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

The 19th Child of Twenty-one

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

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

Family on the Move

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

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

Milla Lives Through a House Fire

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

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

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

Milla Marries a Younger Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Second House Fire is Fatal

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

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

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

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


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