When the shoe won’t fit – part 3 (Census)

I am trying to narrow down the dates of birth for the children of Welcome Stephens.

My original list of children looked like this:

Elizabeth

1794

John

1797

Dudley

1797

Joshua

1800

Andrew

1801

Polly “Mary”

1807

Thomas

1810

William

1813

Sherwood

1815

Lettie

1816

After looking at Welcome’s will, I adjusted the list of children to:

  • Dudley
  • Joshua
  • Andrew
  • Sherwood
  • Elizabeth
  • Polly
  • William
  • John Bailey (not a child, but listed in the will and could be a clue to Welcome’s wife)

Now I am ready to look for information in the 1840 and 1850 census records.

Dudley – my original d.o.b. was 1797 and that came from the 1850 census where Dudley was listed as 53 years old. I know he couldn’t have been born before 1800, so taking a look at the 1840 and 1830 census helps me to narrow this down a bit. In both census records, Dudley was listed as being between 30 and 39. So if he was on the younger end for the 1830 census and the older end for the 1840 census, I would put his d.o.b. around 1800.

Joshua – Joshua is a bit of a mystery. The first census record I can find for him that I feel confident is the correct record is in 1860 when he is found living with John Bailey’s family! (John Bailey married Andrew Stephens’ daughter – Martha “Patsy”) In 1860, Joshua is listed as 49 years old, giving him a d.o.b. around 1811 – much younger than I expected! At the same time, I see that John Bailey is listed as 37 years old, giving him a d.o.b. around 1823. He would have been 17 years old when Welcome passed away.

Andrew – 1850 census, 50 years old – 1840 census age 30-39. I’m going to put a potential d.o.b. at 1801 because I believe Dudley was the oldest.

Sherwood – 1850 census, 34 years old – 1816 d.o.b. This seems a bit young compared to the others, but in the 1820 census, Welcome had 2 males under 10 and that could have been Joshua and Sherwood, so it’s not out of the question.

Elizabeth – I have found zero records for John Ard. ZERO! So the only thing I have to make a guess on would be the marriage record. Elizabeth was married in 1822 and was listed as the daughter of Welcome Stephens – making me think she was young enough to need her father’s permission to marry. In the 1820 census, Welcome had one daughter under 10 and one daughter between 10 and 15. If Elizabeth was 15 in 1820, she would have been 17 when she married in 1822. This would make her d.o.b. around 1805.

Polly – Polly’s 1850 census indicates that she was born around 1810. She had a 19 year old daughter who would have been born when Polly was about 21, so that d.o.b. fits.

William – The 1850 and 1860 both put William’s d.o.b. around 1807.

Name

My original d.o.b.

Updated d.o.b. based on census records

Dudley

1797

1800

Andrew

1801

1801

Elizabeth

1794

1805

William

1813

1807

Polly

1807

1810

Joshua

1800

1811

Sherwood

1815

1816

John Bailey

?

1823

The first thing that I notice now is that there is a 10 year difference between my original notes and my new dates for Elizabeth and Joshua. That could make a significant difference when looking for potential records!

So do these new dates line up with the older census records for Welcome’s family?

1810 Buncombe Co, NC

1810 Buncombe Co, NC

Based on these dates, in 1810, Welcome should have 4 or 5 children – 3 boys and 1 or 2 girls. Checking the records, I see that Welcome has 3 boys under 10 (check!) and 2 females under 10 (check!). (I also notice an additional, older woman – perhaps a mother or mother-in-law?)

1820 Adair Co KY cropped

1820 Adair Co census

In 1820, Welcome should have around 7 children – 5 boys and 2 girls. Checking the records, I see that Welcome has 2 boys under 10 (Sherwood and Joshua), 1 boy 10-15 (William), 2 boys 16-18 (Andrew and Dudley)[the 2nd 2 is males between 16 and 25, which would be the same 2 boys], 1 girl under 10 (Polly) and 1 girl between 10 and 15 (Elizabeth). This looks good EXCEPT – Dudley was married in 1818, so he would not have been living with Welcome. Or if he was, there should also be an extra female. (The Dudley listed above Welcome was his older brother.) So who is the “extra” male? If my “new” dates are correct, he certainly wasn’t in the 1810 census. The other  new piece of information in the 1820 census was that there was no wife, so now I have a potential date of death for “Nancy #1”.

I’m pretty happy with these numbers, but it does give me more questions. My next step will be to take a look at tax records to see if those give me additional clues.

When the shoe won’t fit – part 2 (The Will)

I’m trying to narrow down the dates of birth for the children of Welcome Stephens.

I will begin with Welcome’s death. Welcome died in 1840 – before any census records listed all family members. So I will look to see who was listed in the will and what I can discover in the estate settlement.

I Welcome Stephens Russell County and State of Kentucky do hereby make my last Will and Testament in manner & form following that is to say

1st I desire that my blacksmith tools shall be sold immediately after my decease and out of the monies from all my just debts and funeral expenses be paid.

2nd after the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses I give to my beloved wife Nancy Stephens one bed and furniture and for her to give the same to who she pleases at her death and shall have her support in manner hereafter mentioned only she shall have the use of my farm or so much of them she needs for her and John Baily and the kitchen furniture

3rd I give unto my son Dudley Stephens all the ridge tract of land including the Racoon Springs and the tract on which he now lives included in the deed to me from Thomas Wilson so high up the creek as to take square across the bottom at the lick at the upper end of the old field, to him and his heirs forever also my clock and my five dogs.

4th I give to my son Andrew Stephens the tract of land where he now lives containing one hundred acres more or less to him and his heirs forever.

5th I give to my son Joshua Stephens the home tract of land that is including where I now live and the place where he settled at the Lisha[?] place only he shall contribute to my wife before mentioned a reasonable support in the following manner, she shall have choice houses on the land for own self to live in and as much ground as she can tend herself during her life or her widowhood and my sons Dudley Stephens and Joshua Stephens shall contribute to her what she lacks of making in manner before mentioned.

6th I give to my son Sherwood Stephens the tract of land where he now lives to him his lifetime and to his heirs forever also my bureau

7th as far as John Ard and the children he had by Elizabeth his first wife my daughter I have given them all that I intend for them to have

8th, all the rest of my estate both real and personal of what nature or kind so-ever it may be not herein before mentioned and disposed of I desire that it may be equally divided all my children only I want John Baily to have my young mare when he is 21 years old or one that is as good as she makes when he is 21 years of age provided that he continues to conduct himself as well as he has done heretofore and lives at home as he has always done until he is free.

And lastly I hereby appoint Dudley Stephens and Joshua Stephens Executors to this my last will and testament in witness whereof I do hereby set my hand and affix my s—[?; remainder of word obliterated] the 14th day of July 1840.

First in the will, he mentions his wife, Nancy. I “know” (information from other people) that Welcome married Nancy Bailey and there is a John Bailey mentioned in the will, so this makes sense to me – perhaps a younger brother.  However, Welcome is a fairly uncommon name (unlike William and John which I have in the dozens!) so I have also noticed that Welcome Stephens married Nancy Stephens in 1830 – long after his children were born.

Marriage of Welcome and Nancy Stephens

Marriage of Welcome and Nancy Stephens

I have to assume that this is NOT Nancy Bailey, but a 2nd marriage. Based on that marriage record, I believe that Nancy Bailey died before 1830. I do not know if the Nancy Stephens that he married had been previously married and therefore has a different maiden name or not.

OR – I can continue the plan of accepting no information other than what I can find myself and then believe that Welcome’s first wife is unknown and the Nancy he married in 1830 WAS Nancy Bailey and John Bailey was HER son from another marriage. The only problem with this is that the marriage record clearly says “Nancy Stephens”. Could the recorder have accidentally written Welcome’s last name for both individuals? No way to prove that so I will add John Bailey to my “group sheet” to see what information I can find for him as he is my best clue for Nancy Bailey – whether she was Welcome’s first or second wife.

The children specifically mentioned in the will were:

  • Dudley – because he is listed first and was a co-administrator of the will, I’ll assume that he is the oldest child.
  • Andrew – assuming he is 2nd oldest
  • Joshua – 3rd oldest - however, he is also a co-administrator of the will – does this mean he might be the 2nd oldest? More clues needed.
  • Sherwood – 4th oldest
  • Elizabeth – Welcome states that his daughter is deceased and that his son-in-law and grandchildren have been given all he intends to give to them. I do not feel that having her listed at the end is an indication of birth order, but that he takes care of his living children first.
  • John Bailey – not specifically mentioned as a child, but Nancy is given “use of my farm as she needs for her and John Bailey” and he is to be given a mare “when he turns 21”.
  • The rest of the estate is to be disposed of and divided equally among “all my children”.

When the estate was settled, 2 more names come to light. Polly Stephens, who agrees with those mentioned above to sell the property to the highest bidder and to give an equal share to William Stephens. William was living in Mississippi or Alabama at this time, so that explains why they mentioned giving him his equal share. From my original list, 3 individuals are missing – John, Thomas and Lettie.  I will have to think about these individuals later.

So my “new” list of children becomes:

  • Dudley
  • Joshua
  • Andrew
  • Sherwood
  • Elizabeth
  • Polly
  • William
  • John Bailey

My next step will be to see what I can determine about each of these children in the 1840 and 1850 censuses.

When the shoe won’t fit!

When you begin gathering family history information for the first time, it’s exciting to find information in a book about your family. It’s almost like discovering you’re famous!

I have a group sheet for Welcome Stephens that I created years and years ago. I believe the information that was the basis for this group sheet came from a Russell County History book in which individuals can submit family information and from people who submitted trees on Ancestry.com. I have approximate dates of birth and to be honest; I have no idea where some of this information came from. So after this oh-so-newbie beginning, I have 10 children for Welcome Stephens and his wife, Nancy, with dates of birth ranging from 1794 to 1816.

Elizabeth

1794

John

1797

Dudley

1797

Joshua

1800

Andrew

1801

Polly “Mary”

1807

Thomas

1810

William

1813

Sherwood

1815

Lettie

1816

I have used that information as the jumping off point for both directions – ancestors AND descendants of Welcome Stephens. But as I spend this holiday season updating notes, I just can’t make some of this information fit. And if I’m searching for individuals many years older or younger than their actually age, I may be missing valuable records.

In the 1800 census, Welcome’s household only had 2 people – a male and a female, each between the ages of 16 and 25.  Based on my group sheet, there should be 3 or 4 children by this time, which makes me see that this information cannot be accurate. I understand that census takers sometimes got their information from neighbors, but there were a total of 4 Stephens’s families living in the area at the time and I find it hard to believe that a stranger would know that there was a man and a woman living at a location, but fail to notice 4 kids!

So what if I was starting totally from scratch with no “outside” information?  What would I have in my group sheet? For years, I’ve been collecting documents from any Stephens name I could find – time to be a detective with the documents I have by looking at them with a fresh eye.

Next Time: Welcome’s Will

Fantastic Book!

This week, I purchased the digital e-book, “Online State Resources for Genealogy” by Michael Hait. It is an incredible book that that not only gives a goldmine of websites with genealogy information for every state, but also makes every listing a clickable link to take you directly to the page.

Here’s what I love the most about the book – I visit the State Archives or State Library sites for many states while doing my research, but Michael’s book gives a link to each individual record set available on that site! Sometimes, a state site is less than user-friendly and if I enter a surname, I may get pages of results that are difficult to evaluate as far as potential value of information. Often, I am not able to find a list of databases contained on the site, but this book lists them all!

With Michael’s book, every entry has a paragraph with a description of the information contained in the database including the dates covered.  Not only can I rule out sites in date ranges that don’t apply to my ancestors, but I can see exactly what type of information might be on a site so that I can do some pre-research on what information I have and what information I need so that I can use my time effectively.

Not only are the State Archives and Library sites included, but also many other libraries, historical and county sites and their databases as well.

In the short time that I have had this book, I have been able to look through indexes or actual images of records for counties that my ancestor spent such a short amount of time in, that I would not be likely to pay for films from the FHL. With one link, I was able to see tax records for years that aren’t included on any FHL film, helping me to look for family members and associates to prove a hypothesis for the birth location of an ancestor in 1836.

I downloaded the 1140 page book as a PDF file and as I do my research, I can highlight databases that I have searched and include a comment telling exactly what I searched for and the results of that search.  I can indicate links that I’d like to go back to spend more time with as well as  questions that I have after finding new information.

And while my research tends to focus around 1 surname at a time for long periods of time, I know that this book will be a huge value for me when I change gears to another family or when I am asked to do a “quick search” for information for a friend.

Bottom line: I think this book would make a great gift for any genealogist!

Lovin’ the Form!

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Collaboration! That’s where it’s at when it comes to genealogy research. Finding “cuzzins” and exchanging information – that’s the goal!

Whenever I partner with another researcher, I’m never certain what records they might have access to. Do I need to order a microfilm or does one of my research partners already have access to it? Does a cousin know about a resource that I’ve never even thought of looking for?

I’ve often thought that it would be great to be able to share a database of resources.  I’d love to create a database, relevant to my family line, of all possible resources to help in my research and who has access to them, but to make it really worthwhile, I need to take several things into account.

  1. This needs to be easy – even for those who aren’t comfortable with technology.
  2. This needs to be compatible with PC, Mac, iPad, etc.
  3. There needs to be a way to make sure that everyone is collecting the same information.
  4. There needs to be a way to make all results available to everyone so that everyone reaps the benefits and is motivated to contribute.
  5. I would like to make this available to people that I haven’t even met yet to try to make new family connections.
  6. I would like for this to be a true collaboration tool which means that it should be possible to makes comments and ask questions within the document.

My solution? A Google Form that automatically enters information into a sharable spreadsheet.

I think the Google Form is the easiest answer for #1-3 above. I think that making the Form and Spreadsheet available through my blog may be the answer to #4-6.  So I’m including the form below, but I’m also adding a tab at the top of this blog so that Stephens Researchers can quickly access the form and the spreadsheet without having to look for this specific post.

Am I concerned that this will turn into more work than I’m looking for? yes.

Am I worried that somehow, there will be a negative side to this that I haven’t thought of yet? yes.

Am I worried that the “Build it and they will come” philosophy will be a total bust for this? yes.

Am I going to give it a try anyway? yes.

If you are researching the same Stephens family that I am (Welcome Stephens, Dudley Stephens, Rev. William Stephens, etc) then I would love to hear from you!

The Open-Minded Genealogist?

Sometimes, a genealogist has a branch on the tree that has been researched for years and years by other genealogists. Family histories are published. Trees are uploaded to Ancestry – some are sourced, many are not. Those trees are copied an exponential number of times to other trees. So when a beginning genealogist begins their research, there seems to be an overwhelming amount of evidence to be gleefully accepted as fact.

Then, after creating a timeline for your ancestors, there is a question about how the jump to a previous generations was proven. With a 40 year gap in the records, why does everyone believe this is the correct mother and father? How do you know that this name in the new county is the correct father? There is no marriage record to be found (well, it WAS 250 years ago, so you might think that’s not unusual), so how was the mother connected to the father? Certainly, you think, someone has proven it because it’s on the internet and in books and in newsletters. Someone has a genealogy written out by an earlier ancestor – and everything else has been proven, how could this be wrong? Is research that was done “B.I.” (before the internet) more accurate than research we can do now?

So when another researcher comes along with a totally new idea – what do you do? Ignore it and continue looking for that “missing link” document? The one that makes the connection everyone has been claiming? Or do you set aside what you’ve always believed – the line that you’ve researched for years – the line that everyone else says is true? Are you open-minded enough to try to prove this new potential line? There is an emotional attachment to people you’ve been researching for so long. Is it betrayal to put those “ancestors” in a drawer?

The new information is well documented, but in a round about way – not through your direct line. There is still no document that directly links your ancestor to the generation before, but if you are willing to believe that the most common-sense approach is to believe that neighbors were brothers who witnessed documents for one another and became surety for one another, THEN you can begin to think this new line is more believable that the line you’ve always known.

What would be the negative side to “switching lines”? People who have shared information with you in the past might write you off as someone who is trying to stir up controversy. Or, in a couple of years, you might realize that this new line cannot be right and you’ve “wasted” years of research time. Notes and databases become a mess while making “the switch”. Will it be worth it?

I think that today, I am prepared to take the leap – to make the switch – to be open-minded to the idea that someone else’s research might be a better path to follow. I’m ready to take the “road less traveled” to see where it takes me.

Pulling out the magnifying glass!

Ahhhh….details!

I’ve been focusing on finding tax records for Polly Stephens. When did she appear in Russell County and who was she listed near? Can I determine the family groups and find out when migration to other counties began?

So I’ve been going through the microfilms and scanning appropriate documents. Not the most exciting information on a tax record…numbers for acres of land (she had none), cattle (she had 2), mules (none), carriages (none), children….wait, what? Does that word really say “children”? Why yes it does! Why do they care about the number of children on a tax record? What else do those teeny tiny words say?

Well, in 1838, it’s handwritten and it says “Male children”, “Females” and “Total”. Hmm…Polly has 1 female child.

So, what do I know about Polly’s children?  In the 1850 census, Polly (Mary) is listed with 3 children: Elizabeth – born @1830, Lucy – born in 1842 and Andy – born @1844. Other than the 1838 tax list that I found, each year asks for the number of children between certain ages.  For example:

  • beginning in 1840, the list asks for the number of children between 7 & 17.
  • In 1844, this changed to the number of children between 5 & 16.
  • In 1853, it asks for the number of children between 6 & 18.

All of the information that I see for Polly matches well – EXCEPT for an unaccounted for child. From the years 1840-1845, Polly indicates that she has 2 children of the correct ages. Assuming that Elizabeth is one of these children, she would be 10 years old in 1840, but neither of the other children would have been born yet. Even if the birth dates that I have are off by a couple of years, Lucy would not be any where near 7 years old by 1840. I suppose this extra child might not have been her own child, but I’ve never seen anything indicating that Polly had the resources to care for extra children. In fact, I’m not convinced that Polly lived on her own around this time. The tax records indicate that she owned nothing other than a couple of cows.

So this brings 2 questions to mind. What records can I find that might help me find this child? How can I find out what happened to him/her? If the information in the tax listings is accurate, than this child was born between 1829 and 1831. If the child was born in 1829, they would have been 17 in 1846, a year in which I cannot find Polly in the tax list. A 17 year old is old enough to get married, so perhaps I can find a marriage record to give me a hint. If the child was born in 1831, they would have been 17 years old in 1848, the year in which Polly indicates that she has 1 child between 5 & 16. The child could still be living with Polly, but not show up in the tax count. By 1850, the child is not living with Polly, so I will look at potential marriages between 1846 and 1850.

Up until now, I’ve just gathered tax records as a way of keeping track where an ancestor was living. But now, I’ll be using my magnifying glass and will examine those records more closely!

An Ode to Paper

OK, call me a rebel, but I am not part of the “digitize it all and get rid of all paper” camp. I do have 95% of my stuff digitized, but I love my paper copies – usually kept in binders – and here are the Top 10 reasons why…

1) Margins!!!! I love writing in the margins! Relationship notes and clarification of difficult to read words are my most common notations. In the bottom margin, I write the location and year that the document was recorded. Even though this CAN be done on digital records, I rarely have the time to do each document at the time it’s being scanned. At the Allen County Public Library, printouts from the microfilm scanners are free. Scanning is slow, depending on the resolution I’ve chosen, so I can print in sets of 5 and then write basic notes in the margins while the next set of records are being scanned.

2) Re-printable!!! Draw on a map then discover a new document that makes you rethink a location? Reprint the map! I have a chronological set of notes for every family in my tree. One entry might say something like “1853 – Russell County tax lists – 100 acres” with a footnote citation. I try to include a snapshot of the portion of the document that is the source as well so I don’t have full versions of everything printed – but I could find it on my computer if I want to look at the entire page. I write ALL OVER these notes! Sometimes, it’s a note about something I’d like to remember to add. Sometimes, it’s a chart of the ages of all the people in that family at that point in time or a timeline of events for a different family in the same area. I have lists of FHL films that I’d like to order for a certain time period. But mostly, questions, questions, QUESTIONS! I can look at a tax record and notice that I’m not seeing all of the family and write a note to look for them and where I think they might be. I use different colors and draw clouds around things to help them stand out, but I write EVERYTHING I can think of because I know I can update the notes and print them again! Each time I go through a set of notes like this, I use a different color and indicate the date at the top. That way, I can update things in my digital file, but not re-print until I have a significant amount of new data in the file.

3) Post-it Notes!!!! Notes to myself about next steps, notes telling when I had to stop before getting everything I wanted, questions the document brings to mind, hypotheses about neighbors, mini-family tree charts to show how people are related, thoughts about things to put in my research plan for my next research trip, basically anything that pops into my head as I’m working that I don’t necessarily need to have permanently written on the record. Try sticking a post-it note to a digital file!

4) Highlighters!!! Sometimes, documents are either very full of names or very hard to read. If I have the time to really analyze a document and I find the names I’m looking for, I love to highlight them so it isn’t as hard the next time. (Then, I add the notes in the margins about who is a brother-in-law or neighbor, etc.)

5) An entire blank sheet of paper on the back of each document!!!! Sometimes, I write a “letter” to myself with a narrative of what’s happening or questions that the document brings to mind. Obviously, writing the source of the document including where I am, the date and the book or film that I’m looking at always goes on the back. (How many times have a scanned multiple pages from a tax book or court order book and then not been able to rename the files right away! Later, I look in the folder and wonder about dates or the county or whatever – especially if I’m doing “mindless” work such as scanning every page of a tax book for a specific year.) Every page looks the same, so keeping track of what is what is very important. But as I’m working, I can write source citations on the back MUCH faster than renaming files and adding source citations to the file properties. I can also keep longer notes about what a particular document means to my research, if desired, especially if the information in this document fits in well with another document. I also like to write notes to myself about other people that I looked for in the book/record that were not included. Those things are later included in my research log, but sometimes, certain information doesn’t jump out at me in log format.

Another thing I like to indicate on the back is whether or not I did any clean-up work in PhotoShop. So often, there is bleed through of ink from the pages before or after the page I’ve printed from microfilm and it’s an easy fix to take those out. But I like to indicate what I did so I know that the copy I am looking at is not the original (although I always keep both digital files).

Finally, if I have a print out of a digital file that I have transcribed, it’s easy to put the print out in the printer and put the transcription on the back. Again, margins for notes and diagrams, etc!

6) Sorting!!!! I like to write the date  for each page in the lower right hand corner. With that, I can put pages in chronological order. Then, as I flip through a file (usually in a binder), it’s almost like reading a story of the person’s life. I love having my things filed chronologically to help me come up with a timeline of locations so that I’m not wasting time looking at a record set for a time period when the family wasn’t even in the area.  I can also decide to re-organize my pages by source type to find blanks in my research.  For example, I can have a stack for tax records, census records, birth/death records, etc. If I have a family with 8 children, but I only have death records for 6 of them, then I know that’s something to add to my “to do” list.

I will admit that I am so tied to having everything in chronological order, every digital document that I have has the year at the beginning of the name. For example “1840 Welcome Stephens will”.

7) We’ve all heard “out of sight, out of mind”. Well, I get just the opposite by turning pages in a binder! As I flip through an ancestor’s binder, I know immediately what I have and when there are missing chunks in my research. Or I see a document that I forgot that I had! Flipping through a binder is MUCH faster than finding and opening multiple files on my hard drive. Often, when I flip through a binder, questions and connections come to mind that I would never think of just by looking at a list of documents that I have scanned.

8) Maps, maps, maps – I love to include period relevant maps within my chronologically arranged binder. What county is next door? How close to the county/state line did my ancestor live? For ancestors who lived in different counties, how far apart were they? Did my ancestor have to go across a river to get to the county courthouse? Did the county boundary line change between records? All kinds of maps from state to county to plat maps, they all go in the binder! And as I’ve mentioned before, I can write all over these maps or highlight the area where my ancestors were.

9) Portable! Have to go to the doctor or dentist office? Have some time in the car before soccer practice is over? Going for a trip in a car or plane? Bring along a folder or a binder! Much easier to open in an office or car/plane than a computer! (And don’t forget the color pens and highlighters!) Those are the times that I’m forced to really think about what I have and what I’d like to look for next because I don’t have a computer in front of me to jump into databases. I can take a file to school on test days and write all over it while students are working.

10) Better comprehension! Call me strange, but I comprehend information better on paper than on my computer screen. Imagine my guilt over this considering that I am the technology trainer at my school! For the life of me, I don’t understand it, but I process information and remember it better when I’m reading from paper compared to my computer screen.

So there it is! I love my computer and my digital files, but I could NOT do my genealogy research without my paper copies! And it feels good to confess that to you all!

Polly Stephens

I spent the morning at the library, but the film I was hoping to see had not arrived yet, so I spent time with some tax records. Now I’m home again and a storm is brewing outside, so I thought I’d do some “thinking out-loud” to process information that I already have before I start looking for new stuff and to take my mind off the weather.

Polly Stephens is a mystery for me. Here’s what I know and what I think it may mean.

Mary “Polly” Stephens was the daughter of Welcome and Nancy Stephens. Polly was one of the heirs listed in Welcome’s estate settlement in 1840.

Based on ages listed in census records, Polly was born around 1807 in Kentucky. There is a tombstone for a Polly Stephens in a cemetery with several other Stephens family members with the dates 1807 – 1894. So did Polly Stephens marry a Stephens? There are many cousin-cousin marriages in this family, so that doesn’t seem unlikely. Going on this assumption, I’m trying to figure out who the spouse would be.

@1807 – birth of Mary “Polly” Stephens

1830 – birth of Elizabeth Stephens listed with Polly in 1850 census. Polly would be around 23 years old. This may not have been Polly’s first child, so I’d begin looking for a marriage around 1825.

1837 – Today’s trip to the library revealed a court record from the January Term, 1837 in which George F. Harris appeared to answer a charge of bastardy made by Polly Stephens, but Polly did not appear as requested. Therefore, no action was taken against George.  To read about bastardy laws during this time, click here. Who was George Harris? He was Polly’s cousin, son of Welcome’s sister, Dorcas. She would have been 30 years old and he would have been 34.

1838 – I see a Polly Stephens with no land listed in the Russell County tax records. She is listed 2 lines above her father, Welcome. When I go back to the library, I will look at previous years to see when she appears (and hopefully, to see who disappears as a potential spouse!) After more research, I see that she was first listed in 1838. She is listed again in 1840 – 1846 now through 1855 (the last year that I checked this morning at the library)

1840 – Polly is not listed in the 1840 census for Russell County although she is listed in the tax records. I will take a look at family members to see if someone might have an “extra” female of the right age living in the household.

1843 – birth of Lucy Stephens – who I believe may be the daughter of Polly. According to Lucy’s son’s birth record, Lucy was born in Russell County.

1847 – birth of Andy Stephens listed with Polly in 1850 census. Polly would be about 40 years old.

I searched for additional court records during this time for Polly and found none in Russell County.

1850 – Mary Stephens (age 43) is listed in the Adair County (Russell County’s next door county) census with Elizabeth (age 19), Lucy (age 7) and AJ (age 3). Mary lives next door to Sherwood Stephens, her brother. Originally, this is the listing that made me think that Mary “Polly” was the mother of Lucy.  As I think about the tax lists I was looking at this morning, I’m thinking that perhaps Lucy and AJ could be the children of a family member. If they ARE her children, (and assuming she wasn’t a “loose” woman, which perhaps was too hasty with my new information!) then she would have had a husband in 1846. Why would she be listed in the tax records of that time if she had a spouse? I should look at guardian records for a clue.

1860 – Franklin Co, Alabama. Polly Stephens (age 55) with Elizabeth (age 30) and Andy (age 16). Living next door are A.J. Stephens (grandson of Welcome) and his wife, Lucy (daughter of Polly?)

1870 – I cannot find Polly OR A.J and Lucy.

1880 – A.J. Stephens and Lucy Stephens and their 8 children plus “Pollie” age 70 – Aunt of head of household.

1894 – Tombstone for Polly Stephens in the Pleasant Hill cemetery. Also in the cemetery: (Note: Welcome is Polly’s father, William is Polly’s brother, Andrew (and Lucy) is William’s son)

  1. Caroline Stephens Crockett – Grand-daughter of Welcome, daughter of William
  2. Almarine Stephens – Son of #3 and #8
  3. Andrew J. Stephens – Andrew #3 in my “5 Andrew Stephens” tab Hmmmm…is there any chance this could be Polly’s son, Andy???
  4. D.C. Stephens – Great-grandson of Welcome, grandson of William, son of Andrew and Lucy
  5. John Stephens – Grandson of Welcome, son of William and Dorothy
  6. Lenora Stephens – Great-grand-daughter of Welcome, grand-daughter of William
  7. Lucy Ann Stephens – Daughter of #3 and #8
  8. Martha J. Stephens – Wife of #3 and Grand-daughter of Welcome Stephens, daughter of William

Next step – more time with the tax records to try to pin down when Polly began appearing (which I’m assuming means her husband has passed away or left her.)

William Stephens will – 1829 Russell County, KY

I’m working through my “Stephens File” and I’ve decided to transcribe documents that I’ve scanned or downloaded, but not really examined. At this point, I’m looking for clues in collateral lines that will help me with my direct line, but I thought I’d go ahead and put the transcription on my blog in case it is helpful to anyone else.

This William Stephens (1750 – 1829) was the step-brother of my Welcome Stephens (@1780-1840).  Both men died in Russell County, Kentucky. The will can be found on FamilySearch here. Directly after the will is the renunciation from William’s wife Anna (Susannah Fox) who did not feel she was being adequately provided for.

1st, I, William Stephens senr am old and in a low state of health, but in my reasonable senses thank God for it. I do hereby make my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say

2nd, I do give my son William Stephens junr all my blacksmiths tools

3rd, I also give to my son Stephen An Stephens my three year old mare, biggest bed and furniture and still,

4th, I give to Anny Wilson daughter of Anny Wilson deceased all the money that her father Moses Wilson is owing me.

5th, I give to my daughter Lishey Hampton all that is in her hands, by her paying ten dollars in work to supporting my old wife

6th, I give to my grandson Jordan Hampton my gun. I also give to my granddaughter Hester Hampton a small bed and furniture (interlined before signed)

7th, I also give to my granddaughter Anny Stephens daughter of Obed Stephens, my youngest colt.

8th, I give to my grandson William An Stephens all my shoe making tools, hand saw, drawing knife augers pan handle and a note that said a Stephens is owing me

9th, I give to my two sons (to wit) William Stephens junr and Stephen An Stephens all my irons and iron tools except there above mentioned to be equally divided between them two. I do give all the above mentioned to them to hold forever. As for all my daughters except those above mentioned is received their full part of my estate (interlined before signed) I do also leave all my personal estate home hold and kitchen furniture money in hand and all that is owing except that above mentioned to the support of my wife after my just debts and funeral charges is paid. I leave my son William Stephens a guardian for my wife and to sell all the property that she don’t need at present and keep the money for her use as she needs and at the decease of my wife if any things remains to be equally divided between William Stephens my son and Stephen An Stephens my son, and Obed Stephens and to be enjoyed by them forever, as hereunto I have set my hand and affixed my seal this December 26th 1828 signed sealed and delivered and for the last will and testament of the above named William Stephens in the presence of us Jacob Petitjohn, Moses Wilson (it would seem that this is William’s son-in-law, mentioned above), David Roach

At a county court began and held for the county of Russell at the courthouse in the town of Jamestown on Monday the 19th of January 1829. The last will and testament of William Stephens deceased was produced in court and proven by the oaths of Jacob Petitjohn and Moses Wilson subscribing witness thereto and ordered to be recorded.

To the county court of Russell County, I Anna Stephens widow and relict of William Stephens deceased, not being satisfied with the provisions made for me by the will of my late husband, do by these presents declare that I will not take or accept the provisions made for me by such will or any part thereof and hereby renounce all benefit which I might claim by said will witness my hand and seal this 19th day of January 1829. Witness: George F. Harris, John Ard (George Harris was the son of Dorcas Stephens Harris, William’s sister. John Ard was the son-in-law of William’s brother, Welcome)

At a county court began and held for the county of Russell at the courthouse in the town of Jamestown on Monday the 19th day of January, 1829. This is a renunciation of Anna Stephens widow and relict of William Stephens deceased, to the provisions made her in his last will and testament, was produced in court and proven by the oaths of John Ard and George Harris and ordered to be recorded.

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