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.)