52 Ancestors in 52 Week #37 – Martha ‘Patsy’ Smith

My great-great-grandfather William Willis (1805-1855) was born in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. Although we believed his grandparents were Richard and Drucilla Barnett Willis [mostly because they were the only Willis family that remained in Spartanburg], we had been unable to place him within a specific family of their sons. Although the 1810 and 1820 census records for their son John Willis had tick marks for a male child born between 1800 and 1805, other Willis lines have placed another William Willis born about 1813 into that family; without supportive documentation, I could not justify adding another William.

Then a few weeks ago, my daughter, son, grandson, brother and I all either submitted or transferred DNA samples to a genealogy DNA matching website and a couple of weeks ago a matching descendant made contact with me showing our match with him to be through the wife of Richard and Drusilla’s son John – Martha ‘Patsy’ Smith Willis. We had already had a YDNA match with a descendant of John’s brother, Hezekiah, who was born in 1806 but that match still only validated the presumed connection to Richard and Drucilla and did not validate which of their sons was our William’s father. However, a DNA match with John’s wife eliminates the other families and validates what we had thought was logical from the records.

With that background, I can now write about my 4th great-grandmother, Martha ‘Patsy’ Smith Willis. Patsy was a common nickname for Martha and she apparently used both those names intermittently. She was born July 21, 1780 in Louisa County, Virginia to Edward Smith and Sarah ‘Sally’ Holman Rice. Her family moved to the Gaffney area of Spartanburg County sometime after 1784. She married John Willis, according to the International Genealogical Index, on November 21, 1799.

The names of the children of John and Martha/Patsy are incomplete and with little documentary support, but based on tick marks from the census records they had about nine sons and two daughters. Sons names associated with John and Martha/Patsy include Smith (1804), my 3rd great-grandfather William J. Willis (1805), Hezekiah (1806), Daniel (1810), Mitchell (1811), Richard (1814) and John C. (1815). Two other names  but without suggested birth dates are Edward and Irvin. The two daughters were Mahala (1807) and Malissa (1812). Another daughter may have been born in 1808 but no name is known.

Martha’s father died in 1815 and John Willis was listed among Edward’s seven children as a son-in-law in his will; this was typical of the time since the husband of a married woman generally had control of all property.

John and Martha belonged to the Unity Baptist Church in Spartanburg; this was known from the minutes where they were listed as dismissed from that congregation in December 1820, indicating they had moved their membership to another church.

Martha became a widow in October 1835. In the 1840 census, she was listed as a head of household with one male born between 1810 and 1820 living in the home with her and her sons, Richard and Daniel, were enumerated on either side of her.1840 census

Martha was not enumerated in the 1850 census and her death is presumed between 1840 and 1850. I have not found burial locations for either Martha or John.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #36 – Ann Jane Shaw

Ann Jane Shaw Jean was my 3rd great-grandmother. She was the daughter of William Shaw and Sarah Job. Someone has listed her birth date as January 3, 1766 probably in Guilford County, North Carolina; I haven’t seen documentation to support that date or location but there was probably a family Bible record from which someone recorded that date.

Based on the birth date and location of their first child, Ann Shaw and John Jean were likely married about 1817 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. I have not seen a marriage record and I have not not seen where any other descendant has reported a marriage date.

The children born to John and Ann Jane were: William Edmond (1820), Francis Marion (1821), Jesse Jean (1825), Martha Ann Jean (1826) [my 2nd great-grandmother], John Wesley Jean (1828), Sarah Jean (1830) [1st wife of my 2nd great-grandfather], David C. Jean (1831), Thomas Asbury Jean (1836), Wiley H. Jean, 1837), and Elizabeth A. Jean (1842). An unnamed daughter apparently died in 1823 and two other infants in 1832 and 1834.

Little is known of her life other than the names of her children. She died about 1845 prior to the time names were listed in census records; women, of course, rarely left a paper trail since all property was owned and taxes paid by their husbands. Her burial location is also unknown.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #35 – Sarah “Sally” White

Sarah “Sally” White was born about  1805 in South Carolina. It is not currently known who her parents were. Some people have listed her parents as Hiram and Tabitha King White but since they would have only been about ten at the time of her birth, that seems unlikely.

Little is known of her outside of her marriage certificate showing her marriage to Jacob Sanford on July 4, 1824 in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama,and the 1850 and 1860 census records from Fayette County, Alabama and Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, respectively. Unfortunately little information was provided in those early census records – only her name, general age and birth location.

Her known children were my great-great-grandfather, Asa (1826), Tabitha Caroline (1828), John Rufus (1832), Martha (1833), Larkin L (1834), and Absalom (1837). Where there are gaps in birth years, there may have been other children as yet unidentified.

No specific birth or death date records have been located and no burial information is available. Her death prior to 1869 is assumed based on her husband’s second marriage about 1869. Since many of the people in her immediate family are buried at the El Bethel (Buncomb) Methodist Church Cemetery in Tuscaloosa County, it seems likely she is buried there.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.



52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #34 – Jacob Thomas Sanford

Jacob Thomas Sanford, my third great-grandfather, was the son of Absalom Abraham B. Sanford and Sarah Catherine Snider. He was born February 19, 1804 in South Carolina; some researches show his birth in Lexington District but I have not yet seen documentation to verify that.

Family tradition states several families including a number of Sanfords moved from South Carolina to Alabama about 1819. Although I have not been able to find any census records on Jacob or his father for the 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses, all later census records for Jacob’s children list their births in Alabama beginning with Asa’s in 1825. On a trip to Alabama in 2010, my daughter and I went to the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse where we found the filed record of Jacob’s marriage to Sally [Sarah] White, which took place on July 4, 1824.

SANFORD Jacob Thomas & WHITE Sally marriage license-cert 1824 July 4 Tuscaloosa Co AL crop

The 1850 census lists John and Sarah/Sally and their last three children, John Rufus (18), Larkin L. (15) and Absalom (13). 1850 censusThe census identifies Jacob’s occupation as a hatter. Although I have not yet been able to discover very much about his occupation, I know from multiple census records and from conversations with Sanford descendants that this was a family business. They apparently made felt hats in a bowler style with a fairly wide brim. I have been told there is a photo of several of the Sanford men in front of the hat store each wearing a hat made by them in addition to a photo of one of their hats in one of the editions of the Heritage of Fayette County book; I have not been to get copies of either of the photos so far.

In looking at the occupation of hatter, some interesting pieces of information surfaced. The Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is at least partially based on an historical medical result of making felt hats. To make felt, fur was first treated with a solution of nitrate of mercury. Working inside in poorly ventilated workshops could and did result in mercury poisoning. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include emotional instability, cognitive and memory loss, shyness, speech problems, a lack of muscular coordination and sensitivity to touch. Since most census records were inconsistent in listing their occupations as either hatters or farmers, perhaps they were outdoors in the fresh air enough to at least somewhat counteract any long-term effects of the mercury.

Jacob’s wife, Sally, died sometime before 1869. They had six known children: in addition to those listed in the 1850 census there were Asa [my great-great-grandfather] (1825), Tabitha Caroline (1828), and Martha (1833).

Jacob married Elizabeth Taylor in 1869 when Jacob was 61 and Elizabeth was 20; they had five more children: Willis Henry (1870), Harmon A. (1872), John William (1874), Mary Ann (1876) and Sarah Katherine (1878). He died January 20, 1883 and is buried at El Bethel (Buncomb) Methodist Cemetery in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama. ???????????????????????????????

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #33 – Basheba Farquhar née McGuire

My 3rd great-grandmother was Basheba McGuire Farquhar. Details on her life are limited and not yet adequately sourced. I found her name almost by accident; I wrote about that serendipitous occurrence in a blog I called Meet the Farquhars.

Because individual names are not listed on census records for the years prior to 1850, it is often difficult to trace female ancestors’ families because they are listed only as age-categorized tic marks. Although internet searches have given clues that her parents were likely Amos McGuire and Sarah [Sally] Langston, I have not yet found documentation to support that conclusion. However, we are beginning to see evidence via autosomal DNA samples from several of Basheba’s descendants that we are genetically related to Amos and Sally. Much more work remains to be done on this family connection.

A search of Ancestry.com provided a marriage index that listed her marriage to James Farquhar in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama on August 22, 1833. The 1860 census lists the following children:  Sarah [about 1833], Polly [about 1835], Andrew J. [ about 1837], Martha [about 1839] and James [about 1841], Elizabeth [about 1843] and Sis [about 1848].  The pattern of a birth every two years, except for Sis, would suggest these are their children; the break in the pattern possibly indicates the death of a child. This census record states Basheba was born in Tennessee about 1813. This evidence would place both James and Basheba’s ages at about 20 years of age at the time of their marriage.1850 censusThe 1870 census adjusts the probable birth years for James and Basheba to about 1814 and 1815 and adds the names of more children; it was also the piece of evidence that connected Basheba to my great-great-grandmother Sarah Farquhar Welch. The names of the children took more than just this one record to decipher them but here are the eventual names of their children: Lavina “Vina” [about 1851], John [about 1853], Amanda [about 1856] and Cornelia Helen [about 1861]. The name “Merrica” stands for America who had been listed as Sis in the 1860 census. James is the son of America. Below James and Basheba’s family  is the listing for the family of daughter, Sarah Jackson, who remarried following the 1862 death of her husband. The reason I had been unable to find any of the children was two fold: the enumerator listed them by the surname of their stepfather. Additionally, Bashuba had been listed by her middle name of Jane and Mary E had been listed as Isabella. Fortunately, I had found their father’s administration files that gave the full names and ages of his children as Bashuba Jane [1852], James Alexander [1854], Mary Isabella [1856] and William Thomas [1860].1870 census

By the time of the 188o census, James and Basheba were enumerated with only themselves and their grandson, James Hall Farquhar.

Basheba, who was listed on the 1880 census and her headstone as Bashey, was likely called by that name. She died about 1882 in Fayette County, Alabama and is buried at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery on land family tradition indicates was given by James and Basheba to the church for the purpose of providing burial plots. The date on her headstone for her birth is not accurate based on the evidence of census records over time and the logic of her marriage age in 1833: the headstone birth date of 1823 would have her ten years old at the time of her marriage and the birth of her first daughter [the same logic would have been true for James]. Based on cumulative evidence, her birth should have been between about 1813 and 1816 and the death date is likely reasonably accurate, although James did not remarry until January 1886.FARQUHAR James and Basha McGUIRE FAG HS


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #32 – Rachel Buckner née Lindsey

What I know about my 3rd great-grandmother, Rachel Lindsey Buckner, is based on three documents plus what I can extrapolate from research on the areas in which she lived as well as documentation on her husband and children.

An 1850 Blount County, Alabama census [1] listed her within the household of John Buckner. Because relationships were not identified in census records until 1880, individuals living in the same household need more supportive documentation to verify what, if any, relationship they may have had to one another, although placement within the household sometimes is a possible identifier of relationships since the enumerators usually recorded them based on relationship and age.1850The order of names and the ages does suggest a family unit of a husband and wife, ages 54 and 53, and children listed in descending order by age. This record would indicate Rachel was born in North Carolina about 1797. The record lists the names of eight probable children of John and Rachel with the first listed child being a daughter name Rachel who was born in Tennessee about 1826 with four more children born in Tennessee through about 1834. Then, in about 1836, a female child whose name is not very clearly written [through other records, the name was discovered to be Angelina] was born in Alabama, as were the next two children. One other item about Rachel – the tic mark on the right indicates she did not read or write.

In the Heritage of Blount County 1989 [2], there was a brief mention of John Buckner and his family that stated, in reference to the Allgood Community of Blount County, Alabama, “Johnnie Buckner was one of the original settlers. All the Buckners in this part of the state are descendants.” Marriage records and census records for that area, cross-referenced with the gender/age tic marks from an 1830 and 1840 census [an 1820 census has not been located] allowed me to add additional children to the list above: Emmalisa [1818], Elizabeth [1819], Nancy [1821] and William [1824], all born in Tennessee. An obituary for Emmalissa Ellis confirmed her relationship to John and Rachel as well as providing county of residence for the family at the time of her birth in 1818: “Emmalissa Ellis w/o Rev. Jeremiah Ellis, local preacher, MECG, and d/o John and Rachel Buckner, born Sevier Co., Tenn. 1818; died near Fayette Court House, Ala. May 29, 1872; joined MEC at age 15.” [3]

1860 census records for Fayette County, Alabama [4] showed the majority of the Buckner family had made a move. It is also the last record I have found for Rachel.  In this record, the enumerator recorded Rachel’s birth location as Tennessee, which raises questions about the validity of the North Carolina location listed in the 1850 census, although I tend toward the North Carolina location since adding a different state likely took specific information whereas ditto marks seem more prone to error, in my mind. The birth ages for both John and Rachel are slightly different than what was given for the 1850 census: 1796/1797 versus 1800/1802; the names of the last three children from the 1850 census are the same as the last three children for the 1860 census as well as the Tennessee/Alabama birth locations [except for Rachel’s].1860

By the 1870 census, John had a different wife, supportable by an 1862 marriage record; Rachel’s death is presumed, sometime between June 1, 1860 and October 1862. The marriage record was in Blount County so the death location could have been in Fayette County or Blount County, or perhaps anywhere along the route. I have not found a death record or burial record of any kind.

John’s obituary provided evidence for Rachel’s maiden name of Lindsy/Lindsey: “JOHN BUCKNER born east Tenn., Oct. 12, 1798; married Rachel Lindsy, 1818; about 1836 moved to Blount Co., Ala.; died Dec. 16, 1876. He left a large family.” [5]

None of my searches thus far have provided any clue or insight into who Rachel’s parents might have been or a county or state in which to search. John and Rachel had twelve known children, including my great-great-grandfather, John Buckner.



1. U.S. Federal Population Census, 1850; Census Place: Subdivision 18, Blount, Alabama; Roll: M432_2; Page: 93A; Image: 190

2. Reunion Edition of Heritage of Blount County 1989, Blount County Historical Society, 1989, p. 31.

3. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, The Nashville Christian Advocate; 9 Nov 1872, online transcription. [The Nashville Christian Advocate was a publication of the Methodist Episcopal Church.]

4. U.S. Federal Population Census, 1860; Census Place: Middle Division, Fayette, Alabama; Roll: M653_9; Page: 447; Image: 453; Family History Library Film: 803009

5. Genealogical Abstracts from Reported Deaths, The Nashville Christian Advocate; 16 Jun 1877, online transcription.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #31 – Jane Blakeney Welch

My 3rd great-grandmother was Jane Welch nee Blakeney. She was born about 1788 to John and Nancy Blakeney nee May, probably in Cheraws District, South Carolina in the area that eventually became Chesterfield County.

She married Elisha “Eli” Welch sometime around 1810; although no marriage record has been found, they likely married in Chesterfield County. The 1820 census for Chesterfield County, South Carolina had tick marks for two males under 10 years of age and two females under 10 years of age. By 1830, Eli was enumerated in Anson County, North Carolina, which was just across the state line from Chesterfield County. In addition to Eli and Jane, the tick marks reflected the two males but only one of the females from the 1820 census and added three more males under 5 years, two between 5 and 9, and two females between 5 and 9.

Eli and Jane moved to Fayette County, Alabama sometime before 1840 because that’s where they were enumerated for that census. The first and only census record that names Jane was the 1850 census record. Their daughter, Elizabeth Welch Threet was enumerated next to them.1850 censusThe household make up appears to be Eli and Jane plus their daughter, Sarah, and two sons, Hugh and Robert; Robert was my 2nd great-grandfather. In addition, James and Lewis were probably grandsons; unfortunately, censuses didn’t identify relationships until the 1880 census.

Neither Eli nor Jane were enumerated for the 1860 census. We found probate files for Jane Welch, which indicated she was widowed at the time of her death. The administration documents for her probate were filed June 6, 1856. A list of creditors included bills for home visits and medication that were provided to her almost daily from March 17 until April 14, 1856. This would indicate Jane died sometime between April 14, her last medical visit, and June 6, 1856 when probate was filed.

Eli and Jane owned two hundred acres of land so it is likely they were both buried on their land, but no cemeteries or burial records have as yet been discovered.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.