18 October 2014

Related to Michael?

As some of you know the only families I mention are ones to whom I am related. For those wondering how I connect to the families recently mentioned, a copy of my ancestor table is here.

Will of Joseph Daby from 1763, Part I

The image that follows is the initial part of the 1763 will of Joseph Daby of Stow, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, which was admitted to probate in June of 1767.  The will actually contains the names not only of Daby's daughters, but also several of his grandchildren. 
part of the will of Joseph Daby, Middlesex County, Mass., file 5702;
digital image, www.AmericanAncestors.org,  viewed 18 October 2014

--------------[begin transcription]-------------
In the Name of God Amen this fourth Day of April Anne Dom. one Thousand and Seven Hundred and Sixty and three I Joseph Daby of Stow In ye County of Mi[?]x. In ye Province of the Massachusets Bay in New England Gentn. being Suspible of my Mortality and the State of my Family Requiring a Settlement I Constitute  and appoint this to be my Last Will and Testament Principally I recommend my Soul to God In hope of Mercy thro ye Merits of Jesus Christ and my Body to ye Earth to be buried in Decent Christian Burial at the Expance and Discretion of my Exer here after appointed
--------------[end transcription]-------------

I fought with myself on whether the word in the bottom left hand corner of the image was "Direction" or "Discretion." Looking at the way the writer makes his letter "s" (when not the initial letter of the word), it seems that the third letter in the word was an "s." Both words would make reasonable sense in the context of the sentence.

Given the location of the record, it seems that the Mi[?]x is a reference to Middlesex County.

The only son Daby mentions in his will is one who apparently predeceased his father.

We'll have more of the Daby will in future posts.


Updated on FamilySearch

The following databases are showing as updated on FamilySearch since our last update:

New Mexico, Territorial Census, 1885

New York, Naturalization Index (Soundex), 1792-1906

South Dakota, School Records, 1879-1970

Illinois, Northern District Petitions for Naturalization, 1906-1991

How much of an update has taken place I can't say.

17 October 2014

A Message and a Messuage

Knowledge of terms is important. While these sentences are ones I made up, do you know what's probably being said with the following statements:

"The message sent to the widow was that the grass widow gets the messuage. Needless to say the widow wasn't happy."

16 October 2014

Where Were Notices Posted

Parties involved in a court case are to be given notice of when actions are to be taken.

This statement from August of 1920 indicated where four public postings were made regarding the sale of real estate in guardianship case.
Proof of public posting of notices for sale of real estate,
Guardianship of Mattie, Etta, and John B. Garrelts, digital image obtained from FamilySearch

This "notice of posting" appears in the guardianship file for the children of Etta Garrelts (Mattie, Etta, and John B.) in Hancock County, Illinois' probate records.

Posting of notices was a common occurrence and in later court materials a notice of the exact placing of these notes is usually included in the records. In earlier records the naming of places where items are posted can serve as evidence that a certain tavern or meeting place was in existence. The difficulty is that there is no index to place names listed in court records. For most of us, the names of these places simply add some background material to our ancestor's lives.

In this case I know where two of these places are (the bank and the courthouse). The other two I'll have to see if I can locate. My personal memory does not stretch back to 1920.

Note: FamilySearch currently indicates that this file is "volume 176." Having used the probate and guardianship records of Hancock County, Illinois, extensively, that does not quite seem to be the correct reference the digital images appear to be from the packets of loose papers and not the bound volumes. An extremely cursory scan of the materials in this "volume" suggests that they are guardianship papers in the early 1920 era.

We'll have an update when I've actually viewed the records at the courthouse.

Illinois Probate Records Updated On FamilySearch

This database is showing as updated on FamilySearch:

Illinois Probate Records, 1819-1988

I can't say how it's been updated. This database has been on FamilySearch  for a while.

15 October 2014

John Sargent Makes His Son Samuel a Weaver

The 1716 will of John Sargeant of Malden, Massachusetts, contains bequests for all his children, including this one to his son Samuel:
Will of John Sargeant[part], Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 
file 19883; digital image from AmericanAncestors.org, obtained 13 October 2014
John gives his son Samuel a "weavers trade with a loom to work in" and indicates that he also has provided Samuel with land by "a deed of gift under my hand."

Fortunately the deeds for Middlesex County, Massachusetts, are available online at FamilySearch. The grantee index for the 17th and early 18th century contains numerous entries for members of the Sargent family, including the apparent deed referenced in John's will. The index wasn't very difficult to navigate on FamilySearch. Later work on the family should include a look at these other documents besides the one referred to in John's will.


The deed which is underlined in the above image was easy to locate as well. There are two deed book pages on one image which is why deed page 324 is part of image 185 and not image 324. The original deed books are apparently over 500 pages each. 


John refers to his son Samuel as a weaver in this deed and clearly states their relationship as father and son in addition to listing their residences. The weaver reference is consistent with the occupation clue for Samuel given in John's will. It serves as a way of specifically identifying Samuel Sargent as the weaver who is the son of John. There may have easily been other Samuel Sargents in the area who were not weavers or sons of John.

We'll discuss the details of the deed in a future post. It always pays to use wills and probates as clues to other records. John's reference in this case was pretty blatant. Sometimes the clues are a little more subtle.


Named for a Place in Sweden But Spelled the German Way

Names get spelled incorrectly for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the reasons are known and sometimes they are not. And sometimes reasons are merely speculation. 

Such is the case with Gothenburg, Nebraska.

I'm not certain how accurate the story in this newspaper clipping is in describing the history of the naming of Gothenburg, Nebraska. Any newspaper reference in 1954 to an event in 1882 is decidedly second hand and it's reliability could easily be less than 100%.
Digital image from  Genealogybank
The town was named for a place in Sweden: Goteburg. But a German spelled the word and so it ended up being spelled as "Gothenburg." I'm certain there is a genealogical lesson in that spelling origin.

The only reason I located this entry on Genealogybank was because I was searching for William Ehmen. He was a Lutheran minister and a first cousin of my great-great-grandfather Focke Goldenstein who also settled in Gothenburg.

14 October 2014

Updated On FamilySearch: Oregon Materials

The following databases are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Oregon, County Marriages, 1851-1975

Oregon, Deschute County Records, 1871-1985

Putting the Bilder and Back Back Together

I wasn't looking for this entry, but I couldn't pass up posting it.

Fold3.com has indexed this pension index card as James Bilder Back. It's pretty clear that the name is actually supposed to be James Bilderback.

Never hurts to split just about any name in half if you are having difficulties finding it in an index.

Hanover Military Records 1514-1866

My copy of Teresa S. McMillin's Guide to Hanover Military Records, 1514-1866, on Microfilm at the Family History Library has arrived. I'm hoping to use it to access records on a few of my Ostfriesen cousins who served in the military in the mid-19th century when I make my next trip to the Family History Library. The book provides Family History Library film numbers for the military records of Hanover from 1514-1866--something I've never used.

The image that appears below is for Jurgen Ehmen, a 1832 native of Spetzerfehn who apparently deserted in New York in 1859. The image shown below was obtained on Ancestry.com



Before I even use the military records, I'm going to have to create a list of "candidates" for military service from my genealogical database. I'll use that list as my research log when searching the actual records.. With over half my ancestors hailing from Ostfriesland, that's going to be a pretty long list and I need to think about the records, find out how they are organized and what information they typically contain in order to create a list that will effectively serve my purposes.

McMillin's book gives an overview of the records and the military and is an excellent finding aid to knowing what film to search for what records. It is not an everyname index to who is on which roll of microfilm. It's up to the researcher to search the film themselves--just like it is with every record. McMillin's book is an excellent start on accessing those records.

I've got some reading to do.

A Trade and a Loom and Entertaining Cattle


I don't think Joseph Sargeant entertained his cattle in the 21st century sense, but that is the word John Sargent uses in his will to describe his son's use of John's property to raise his cattle. At least I really doubt the Sargeant family provided fun and games for their cattle in the early 18th century. 

The will of John Sargeant from Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1716 provides significant detail about his bequests to his children, along with his reasons for giving them what he did. The clause discussing his son Joseph is representative.

Will of John Sargeant[part], Middlesex County, Massachusetts,
file 19883; digital image from AmericanAncestors.org, obtained 13 October 2014.
-----[begin transcription]--------
Item

I Give to my Son Joseph Sargeant forty Shillings in currant pay to be paid him by my Executors within twelve months after my decease--The reson why I give him no more now is because I have Given him a good Trade and a loome to work in he also had his share or more than his share in my Son Jabiz his estate which was considerable and the Gratest part of my children had not any part of it Also when he lived with me He Raised up free [??] [this should be "Several" instead of "free"] Cattle and I Entertained them:
-----[end transcription]-----------

It would appear that the [Trade?] reference is indicating that John Sargeant either taught his son a trade himself or paid someone to do it. Wills frequently indicate that a parent has already given a child money, but John Sargeant's will is a little more specific than most. There is also no mention as to why Joseph received the bulk of Jabez's estate.

The use of the word "entertaining" in reference to the cattle is also a little unusual, but the reference here likely is to John's providing son Joseph a free place on which to raise his cattle. I'm not entirely certain what the letters or symbol after the word "free" in this part of item refer to.

The mention of Jabez's estate does mean that I need to see if there are any probate records for him in Middlesex County as well.

John mentions all his children in his will and provides for them but the clauses devoted to his sons are more detailed than those devoted to his daughters.

John is one of my New England ancestors whose been written up in several genealogies, but I've made the best discoveries about him and several of them by looking for them in actual records. Wills, probate records, and land deeds often provide clues that compilers of large genealogies simply don't have the time to include. And it is those details that often provide the best glimpse into our ancestors' lives.

[note: Pam Bolton posted a comment correcting me on "free," which I've noted in red. For some reason, Google Blogger won't let me publish or see her comment now---so we're acknowledging it here. Thanks!]



13 October 2014

Registration for CSI-G Begins 13 October!

Registration for the 2015 CSI-Genealogy being held at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois, begins on 13 October. Registration details are here. More information on CSI-Genealogy can be found on our site.

Booze and Politics in 1742

[we run this every election year--I originally wrote it in 2000 so some of you might have already seen it-this originally ran on 28 Nov 2000 in the Ancestry Daily News....]

Booze and Politics in 1742

The 2000 election "dilemma" in Florida brings to mind a situation in Orange County, Virginia in 1742. At that time, though, there was no recount, and "chads" were not pivotal to the outcome. Booze, intimidation, swords, and betting were involved—as was one of my ancestors. As fate would have it, he was involved with the booze, the intimidation, the swords, the coins, and the betting. And he was not even running for office.

This information came to light while I was searching for ancestral names in the published Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1742-47. These journals have been published and are available, generally, in some sort of microtext format. I accessed them at the university where I attended graduate school—university libraries are an excellent source of material of this type, especially when it's of a broader, more general historical interest. I remember going to the index thinking I would not find anything on this ancestor, John Rucker. Was I wrong!

John was not running for office, but he apparently had strong political feelings. Parts of a House of Burgesses transcription are included here, including the original spelling. (I turned off my spellchecker for this one.)

[Note: This material has been edited for space, and the typing has been changed—Fs to Ss—to help readers make sense of the "old style" writing. However, the original spelling has been preserved. It should further be noted that type changes from the old script S (which resembled a lowercase F) to our style S have resulted in the changed spelling of some names: Mr. William Ruffell changed to Mr. William Russell, and Mr. Jonathan Gibfon changed to Mr. Jonathan Gibson.]
(Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1742-47, pp. 50-51)
FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 1742
Mr. Conway, from the Committee of Privileges and Elections, reported [on] the Petition of Mr Thomas-Wright Belfield . . . complaining of an undue Election and Return of Mr Robert Slaughter . . . and Mr Henry Downs . . . as Burgesses . . . for the County Of Orange; . . . it appeared to the Committee . . . That Mr Robert Slaughter, Mr Henry Downs, Mr Thomas-Wright Belfield, Mr Thomas Chew, Mr Zachariah Taylor, Mr William Russell, and Mr James Wood, stood Candidates for the Election; and that the Poll was opened on Friday the Twentieth Day of November last, about Twelve of the Clock.
That as soon as the Poll was opened, John MacCoy, Honorius Powell, John Snow, and Timothy Terrill, and several others, throng'd into the Court-house in a riotous Manner, and made such a Disturbance, that the Sheriff and Candidates were obliged to go out of the Court-house, 'til the House was clear'd, and the People appeas'd:
And that the said Mr Chew, whilst he was on the Bench, called for a Bowl of Punch, and had it brought to him; upon which, the Sheriff stay'd the Poll, and said he would not have any Punch drank on the Bench, but wou'd have a fair Election; to which Mr Chew replied, he would have Punch, and drink it, and that the Sheriff should not hinder him.
. . . the Candidates and Sheriff return'd into the Court-house, and proceeded in taking the Poll; Mr Jonathan Gibson and John Newport, the Under-Sheriff . . . [stood at] . . . the Court-house Doors, with drawn Swords across the Doors, in order to let the Voters pass in and out quietly and regularly in their Polling.
That after the Under-Sheriff was placed at the Door, one Mr John Rucker came to the Door, and demanded Entrance, which he had; and then the said Rucker threw the Under-Sheriff and another Person headlong out of the Doors; and when the Under Sheriff recovered his Post, the said Rucker insisted to clear the Doors, so that everone might have free Entrance, and seized the Under-Sheriff's Sword with both his Hands, endeavouring to break it, which the Under-Sheriff prevented, by drawing it through his Hands.
That then one John Burk came to the said Rucker's Assistance, and laid violent Hold on the Under-Sheriff, who was rescued by the By- standers. That towards Night . . . the People throng'd into the Court-house in a drunken riotous Manner, one of them jumping upon the Clerk's Table, and dancing among the Papers, so that the Sheriff was unable to clear the Bar, or the Clerks to take the Poll:
Whereupon the Candidates desired the Sheriff to adjourn the Poll 'til Eight of the Clock the next morning, which he refus'd to do, unless the Candidates would give him Bond to indemnify him . . . several of the Candidates agreeing to give such Bond, the Under- Sheriff, by Direction of the High-Sheriff, adjourned the Poll 'til Eight of the Clock next Morning; and thereupon a great many of the Freeholders who had not voted, returned home; and Mr Chew and Mr Belfield went to Mr Belfield's House . . . That when the Sheriff had prepared a Bond ready for the Candidates signing, Mr Russell . . . offered it to Mr Chew and Mr Belfield to execute, who refused, saying the Poll was adjourn'd, and their Friends gone home.
[Russell returned to the courthouse and the sheriff re-opened the poll until about eight that night. Russell and several freeholders went to the courthouse to be polled, but the sheriff refused them and declared that Slaughter and Downs had been duly elected.]

It also appeared to the Committee, that the said John Rucker did, before and during the Time of the Election give several large Bowls of Punch amongst the People, crying out for those Persons who intended to vote for Mr Slaughter to come and drink of his Punch; and that the said Rucker stood at the Court-house, and kept out those who were Mr Belfield's Friends and after the Election was over, confessed he had won several Pistoles upon Mr Slaughter's being elected the First Burgess.On 5 June 1742, the House declared that Slaughter had not been duly elected. They also indicated that John Rucker (among others) "are guilty of great misdeameanors and breaches . . ." and that these men (including Richard Winslow, Orange County Sheriff) be sent for in the custody of the serjeant [sic.] at arm.
On 19 June 1742 a petition was read from John Rucker (and some of the other men) which indicated they were truly sorry and that they would not behave in a way that would incur the displeasure of the house in the future. They were discharged from custody and paid their fees.
Very interesting indeed. I didn't learn cold and hard genealogical "facts," but I certainly learned something about John.

11 October 2014

Why Uncle Joseph Watson Matters

Research methodology suggests that we completely research the entire family and as a sibling of an ancestor. That is sound advice, but the reality is that in many cases there are aunts, uncles, and first cousins that really don't get researched. There is only so much time and only so many resources. Failure to research the entire family completely is more likely to happen if there more than adequate records on the actual ancestor of interest and tracing the actual ancestor is relatively easy.

Joseph Watson, an English immigrant to Chicago in the 1880s is one of those relatives. I didn't need to research him to locate the English origins of his sister Elizabeth (Watson) Frame who died Chicago, Illinois in 1919. There were plenty of records on Elizabeth and her family that provided information on her family's English origins. I didn't initially know about Joseph's immigration to Chicago, but it really wasn't crucial to my research on Margaret and her family.

And then I discovered Joseph died without any apparent children.

And that's when I got to thinking that he may be more helpful than I realized.

Elizabeth (Watson) Frame and her husband had several children, including my wife's great-grandfather William. This son William "disappears" around 1920. His wife and her family was unable to find him and it is possible that he stayed in touch with his biological family. And, if Joseph Watson died without children, William would have been an heir to Joseph's estate and mentioned in the subsequent probate file. The only problem is that I'm afraid Joseph Watson died in  February of 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, without any estate worth probating.

But it is worth looking. If there is was an estate for Joseph, it would not only have mentioned William but it would mention other relatives---some of whom lived in England.

[Thanks to my wife's cousin TD in Scotland for catching my error in this initial posting. I constantly referred to Elizabeth by her sister's name of Margaret.]


09 October 2014

Does that Look Like Brampton To You?

It's always worth it to consider how many iterations a location went through before it was placed on the document where you've seen it.

The place of birth on this 1930 death certificate for Joseph Watson appears to be somewhere in England. It also looks like some place starting with an "F."

But that's not where Joseph was born.

Local records in England indicate this Joseph Watson was born in Brampton, England in 1848 the son of James and Mary (Liddel) Watson. James had a sister who also lived in Chicago so I know this is the correct certificate and the correct person. The informant on this death certificate was a hospital administrator. Very likely he was copying the information from a hospital record--which may or not have been written clearly. Joseph had no surviving spouse or children to assist with the death certificate. It's not too much of a stretch to see how a sloppily written Brampton could have later been interpreted as the writing that appears in the birthplace section of this birth certificate.

What makes the analysis of this location easier is that I've already got the "correct" place from other records.

Often we don't have that.

It is always worth our while to think about how many times a piece of information may have "passed hands" before it came to be included in the document we  are using.


Updated On FamilySearch: NJ, NY and OH Materials

The following databases are showing as updated on FamilySearch:

New Jersey, State Census, 1915

New York, Queens County Probate Records, 1785-1950

Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001

07 October 2014

FamilySearch Updates

The following items are showing as new or updated on FamilySearch:

Oregon, Marriages, 1853-1935

Ohio, Deaths and Burials, 1854-1997

United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934

CSI-Genealogy 2015 Registrations Begin 13 October

We are really excited about plans for our first CSI-Genealogy to be held in Galesburg, Illinois, in May/June 2015.

Readers may remember that I am one of the four course coordinators for CSI-Genealogy. We've got four great tracks of lectures lined up on methodology, sources, digital techniques, and German research. More details can be found on our web page.

Registration begins on 13 October.

05 October 2014

Double Cousins Are Normal For Me

My great-great-grandparents Johann Hinrichs Frederichs Ufkes (1838-1924) and Noentje Lena (Grass) Ufkes (1848-1902) had nine children who grew to adulthood and married. The Ufkes family lived in Bear Creek Township, Hancock County, Illinois for most of their married life. They are buried in Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery in Hancock County.

Their youngest child was my great-grandfather--Fred Ufkes. Seven of his siblings married individuals who were also related to me through three of my other great-grandparents. Double cousins were normal to me.

Here's a brief rundown of the double relationships.

Johann Ufkes (1879-1955)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' brother

  • Spouse Elske Huls (1879-1949)
  • Elske was the daughter of Sarke Tjarks Fecht Huls (my ggg-grandmother Janssen's sister)
Trientje Aslena Ufkes (1877-1934)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' sister
  • Spouse Wilhelm Janssen Schuster (1872-1919)
  • Wilhelm was the daughter of Altje Goldenstein Schuster (my gg grandfather Goldenstein's sister)
Lena Christena Ufkes (1879-1909)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' sister
  • Spouse Poppo Fooken (1870-1914)
  • Not a relative to me!
Henry Janssen Ufkes (1881-1949)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' brother
  • Spouse Altje Garrelts (1886-1972)
  • Altje was the daughter of Wilhelmina Goldenstein Garrelts (my gg-grandfather Goldenstein's sister)
Gerhard J. Ufkes (1883-1951)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' brother
  • Spouse Anna Huls (1892-1930)
  • Anna was the granddaughter of Sarke Tjarks Fecht Huls (my gg-grandfather Janssen's sister)
Eielt J. Ufkes (1885-1970)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' brother
  • Spouse Antje Schuster (1887-1966)
  • Antje was the daughter of Altje Goldenstein Schuster (my gg-grandfather Goldenstein's sister)
Bertus J. Ufkes (1887-)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' brother
  • Spouse Margaret Wetterich (1898- )
  • No relation to me
George J. Ufkes (1889-1971)--my great-grandfather Ufkes' brother
  • Spouse Tena Bruns (1895-1984)
  • Tena was the granddaughter of Ubbe Gerdes Bruns (brother of my ggg-grandmother Fecht)
  • Tena was also the granddaughter of Wilhelmina Goldenstein Garrelts ( my gg-grandfather Goldenstein's sister).
Frederich J. Ufkes (1893-1960)--my great-grandfather
  • Spouse Trientje Janssen (1896-1986)



Why You Should Read the Back and Never Assume--More Sledd Debt Details

On 25 February 1807, James Clagg of Bedford County, Virginia, signed a bond in acknowledgement of a debt to John Sled.

On that same date, Amy Sled assigned the bond to Basdel [sic] Sled.

One might wonder if John Sled was really alive on 25 February since his wife, Amy (Ann) signed the assignment of the debt.
James Clegg vs. John Sledd, Senr., etal, Bedford County Chancery Court Records, Case 1827-013, bond from James Clagg to John Sledd, 25 February 1807, front; digital image from Library of Virginia.

Until one reads the flip side of the bond wherein there appears an assignment dated 16 April 1807 signed by John Sledd transferring the debt to Barksdale Sledd.

James Clegg vs. John Sledd, Senr., etal, Bedford County Chancery Court Records, Case 1827-013, bond from James Clagg to John Sledd, 25 February 1807, back; digital image from Library of Virginia.

If only the front of the document had been read, the assignment by John Sledd would not have been seen and the assignment of the debt six years later by Barksdale would have been missed as well. One might have assumed John Sledd was dead on the original bond date which he apparently wasn't.

The one occasional drawback to using digital images of records is that it is not always apparent when using digital images that there is a "flip side" to a document or which image pairs up with another. Sometimes one can compare tears and edges of images (if the entire page is digitized) to determine which image pairs with another. Sometimes that is not possible.

The bond doesn't provide a reason as to why Amy assigned the debt before John.

Fortunately that reason is hinted at in one of the depositions in the case--which we will save for a later post.

No First Name For Mr. Sledd Who Murdered a Slave in 1811

It's not really a surprise when records leave out one key piece of information. But it certainly is frustrating. It is even more frustrating when the individual committed a crime that appeared in several contemporary newspapers of the era, all of which apparently copied the item from the original newspaper in which it appeared. Newspapers copying items from other newspapers (and indicating the source) was a common practice in the early 18th century.

I first learned of the 1811 slave murder when searching for references to my Sledd family on  Genealogybank. The vast majority of  Sledd references before 1850 in  Genealogybank refer to this murder--which was not what I was actually looking for. A search of GoogleBooks located the reference below (which has been mentioned before on this blog). Unfortunately none of the online references provides the first name of Mr. Sledd and "new" (at least to me) newspaper references to the incident fail to provide a first name for Mr. Sledd.

This is not the first time I've written about the 1811 slave murder. But now I've given up on locating an online reference to his complete name.

A London publication provides a summary of the incident which parallels the contemporary newspaper accounts.


 The entry on page 160 which discusses the incident appears below.


Sources indicate that the records of the Virginia State Penitentiary do not go back far enough to mention this specific incarceration. Chancery court records for Bedford County, Virginia, are online at the Library of Virginia, but those are not criminal records and those records to not contain a reference to the court case.

This is a case where online materials may not answer my question and it looks like I need to access materials in the Bedford County Courthouse or the Library of Virginia in order to answer my question as to which Sledd man is referred to in these documents. It is also possible that the full name of Mr. Sledd is listed in local newspaper accounts of the incident.




02 October 2014

Milley Stewart Talks About Her Parents' Debt

Court records can often be a gold mine of information--even if the case appears to be inconsequential.

This image comes from an early 19th century court case in Bedford County, Virginia, that came to a final head in the late 1820s but stemmed from a debt that originated in 1807.

This image is from the affidavit of Milley Stewart. In this deposition Milley names her father, John Sledd, and one of her brothers, Barksdale Sledd. 

James Clegg vs. John Sledd, Senr., etal, Bedford County Chancery Court Records, Case 1827-013; digital image from Library of Virginia.

She also mentions her mother, but does not specifically name her in this affidavit. Clagg apparently lived with or worked for the Sledd family in some capacity and the Sledds gave room and board to Clagg and Mrs. Sledd made him some clothes as well. 

There are several other depositions in the file, which point to an apparent squabble between two of the Sledd brothers, the migration of the family between Amherst and Bedford Counties, and the death of John Sledd (the father) and Mrs. Sledd.

One typically expects disputes over inheritances to mention heirs and family relationships, but any case has the potential to expand on relationship details. My research on this family and other families I have in the area had concentrated on Amherst County. This discovery suggests that I need to do more research in Bedford County as well. One difficulty with research in this era is that one may not know precisely where in a county a family lived, making it imperative to research adjacent county records as well. 

Milley would be a credible source for the relationship information she provides in her deposition. Of course, her knowledge of the relationships would have stemmed from what she was told and what she lived. And as research continues, I should be open to the possibility that when she refers to someone as her "brother" she may have actually meant "half-brother." That distinction would not have been germane to this case as it did not involve any actual inheritance from John or Mrs. Sledd, but rather was discussing the assignment of a debt.

There's more about the Sledd family in this case that we'll save for another post.