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 #17 – James Farquhar

My great-great-great-grandfather was James Farquhar (1813/14-1892). I have not yet seen any specific date records of either his birth or death. His parents married in February 1813 in Person County, North Carolina and census records indicate his birth sometime between 1813 and 1814 in North Carolina, although his tombstone lists his birth as 1820.

A marriage index provides evidence of a marriage between James and Barsheba McGuire on August 22, 1833 in Tuscaloosa County [the 1833 marriage date does not go well with an 1820 birth date for James – he would have only been 13 at that time; however, it does fit with subsequent census records]. There is an 1840 census for James Farquhar in Tuscaloosa County that showed them still in Tuscaloosa County. The tic-mark census was for a male and female between the ages of 20-29 (James and Basheba), one son under 5 (Andrew), one daughter under 5 (Mary “Polly”) and one daughter between 5 and 9 (Sarah – my great-great-grandmother).

By the 1850 census James and Basheba and their growing family had moved to Fayette County. In addition to James and Basheba and Sarah, Polly and Andrew, they also had Martha, James, Elizabeth and “Sis” or America.1850From September 1839 through June 1858, James Farquhar and/or his father purchased land in Tuscaloosa and Fayette Counties; James the son had married in Tuscaloosa County in 1833 so it is feasible he was ready to purchase land by 1839; however, his father of the same name was still living until 1859. A spreadsheet pulled from the Bureau of Land Records shows those purchases: spreadsheetThe Tuscaloosa land is some distance away (between Tuscaloosa and the Fayette County line) but the remaining land is all contiguous. Someone has a website with plat maps of some of the Sections in Fayette County and the one showing James Farquhar’s land, as well as his son-in-law (and my great-great-grandfather) Robert Welch’s, is available [Robert’s land is top left and James’ land is center/left]. Land Map with Welch, Farquhar and Maddox landsBetween 1850 and 1860, three more children were added to the family: Lavina in 1851; John Thomas in 1853; and Amanda in 1855. One more child, Cornelia Helen, was born in 1860 but not enumerated until the 1870 census. The 1860 census listed James as a farmer with property valued at $1,200 and personal property also valued at $1,200.

The Civil War began in 1861 and James’ family was deeply wounded by the war. He had three sons and two of them were old enough to fight for the Confederacy and both of them died. Additionally, his daughter Martha had married William David Caraway who also enlisted and died. His son-in-law, Robert Welch, had died in 1861 prior to the War. The War had taken such a huge toll on the male population of the south and Alabama did a state-wide census in 1866 that was clearly needed because the Federal census taken in 1860 would not have been at all accurate.

The 1870 census gives a small indication of the economic impact on the area – where James’ property values were $1,200 land and $1,200 personal in 1860, in 1870 his property values were $700 land and $500 personal.

James’ wife, Basheba, died in 1882. He married again in 1886 to the widow Nancy Tierce Falls. He died six years later in 1892 and was buried at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery, on land he had apparently donated to the church for the purpose of providing a burial grounds. He was buried near his wife, Basheba, his parents and a number of his children and grandchildren.


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

52 Ancestors #11 – Sarah A. Farquhar

Finding maiden names of female ancestors is oftentimes a challenge and for my great-great-grandmother, Sarah A. Farquhar, that was definitely true.

To begin with, all I had to go on was the name of my paternal grandmother’s father, William Thomas Welch, who was born in January 1860. I had only been able to find him in censuses after he married in 1879. All searches prior to that netted nothing definitive and only one I thought was possible: Wm T. Welch, four months old. The parents of this Wm. T. Welch were Robert and Sarah Welch and he had three older siblings: Bashuba J. (10), James A. (8), and Mary E (4). Unfortunately, none of those people showed up in any census after the 1860 census except for William Thomas.1850 censusIn the 1850 census, Sarah was listed with the middle initial of ‘A.’, was 26 years old, born about 1834 in Alabama and could not read or write, as was the case for Robert. Due to the ages of the members of the household, it is assumed they are a husband, wife and four children; the 1850 through 1870 censuses did not record the relationships of people in a household. The ‘Do’ (stands for ditto) in the column beside Robert indicates he was a farmer and the numbers next to it list their monetary value at $600 property value and $500 personal property value.

Some states began maintaining birth, death and marriage records at an early time while others either started later or do not make them available outside of paying for an official copy of such records. Other states’ records suffered a huge toll when courthouses were burned during the Civil War. Alabama is one of those states affected by Civil War destruction; the Fayette County courthouse has been burned twice. No records of the marriage of Robert and Sarah Welch has been found; if it had been available, my search for Sarah’s maiden name would have been relatively simple.

With no census records showing up after that 1860 one, the probability was that Robert Welch had died between 1860 and 1870 with the Civil War a possible cause; however, I did not find Civil War records for him. I kept searching but found nothing additional for either Robert or Sarah Welch or any of the Welch children. I knew it was likely that Sarah had remarried but without finding a marriage record I didn’t have a surname to search for and Sarah is way too common a given name to search. To compound the problem, even the children didn’t show up, although Bashuba or some spelling variation should have been findable even if James, Mary and William or Thomas were also very common given names.

When Kay and I made a trip to Fayette County, Alabama in 2010, we found an estate file for a Robert Welch who had, in fact, died prior to December 1861; since it listed his wife as Sarah, and their four children: Jane (10), James Alexander (8), Mary Isabell (4) and William Thomas (2), I was pretty confident I had found that Robert Welch. The administrator for the estate was a James Farquhar. With the youngest child of the 1850 census, Wm T., now being identified in the estate papers as William Thomas, I was reasonably confident I had found the correct family for my great-grandfather. Yet that confidence level didn’t iinclude a maiden name for Sarah.

Then one day I was looking at the before and after census pages for an ancestor and saw an entry with the given name of Basheba. It was an 1880 census for Basheba Farquhar and her husband, James [I had forgotten the name of the above-mentioned administrator and this did not trigger any memory recall]. The name Basheba seemed too much of a coincidence to not follow the trail to see if there might be a connection. The first step was to see if I could find James and Basheba in the 1850 census, prior to Sarah’s marriage, and to learn if they might have had a daughter of appropriate age whose name was Sarah. I found their 1850 census and they did have a daughter named Sarah who was 17 in 1850 compared to Sarah Welch who was 26 in 1860.

I then found James and Basheba in the 1860 and 1870 censuses and in looking at the families surrounding the Farquhar family in the 1870 census, I noted the family next to them was James Jackson and his wife Sarah Jackson (35 or born about 1835) and their four children, named Jane Jackson (18), James Jackson (16), Isabel Jackson (12) and Thomas Jackson (10). There were my answers: Sarah had married James Jackson sometime between 1862 and 1870 and the census enumerator had used the Jackson surname for the whole family, which explained why I had been unable to find either my great-grandfather or any of his siblings [Bashuba was using her middle name of Jane now]. 1870 censusWith the Jackson surname, I was able to search for Sarah in 1880 and found her easily. This time Sarah was listed as 45 and once again was widowed [the tick mark just to the left of her occupation of ‘Keeping house.’ She was still listed as being unable to read or write, was again listed as being born in Alabama. Her father was born in North Carolina and her mother in Alabama. Living in the household with her was her daughter, Bell Jackson 22, and her son, James 27. The tick marks indicate Bell was single and James was widowed. She also had a grandchild  named William (5) living in the household. The listing of William directly below Bell might indicate he was her child. It would have been more logical if James had been the boy’s father to have listed William below James’ name.1880 censusI didn’t find a census record for Sarah in 1900, which might indicate she had died or that she had remarried. A marriage record didn’t immediately surface, nor did a death record or a burial record.

Then again, one day as I was looking at a 1910 census record and noted a Sanford surname [another ancestor – one connected to William Thomas’ wife] at the top of the page. I flipped back a page to see which family he belonged to and I saw he was living with Jahue and Isabel Maddox. I wondered about the relationship between the Sanford and the Maddox families and decided to search to see if Isabel might be a Sanford; additionally, I did have a missing Isabel Welch. When I found the 1900 census for Jahue and Isabel, Jahue’s mother-in-law was living with them; her name was Sara. This time the surname was Edmondson. 1900 censusFurther support to determine that Sara A. Edmondson was the same as Sarah A. Farquhar, Sarah Welch and Sarah Jackson and that Mary Isabella Welch was the same person as Bell Jackson, Isabell Maddox and Mary I. Maddox. This time I was able to find a marriage record for Sarah Jackson to David Edmonson that took place on April 8, 1884, and one for a J.A. Maddox and Mary T. Welch that took place November 12, 1882. In the 1800s, all documents were handwritten and T’s, I’s, and J’s look a great deal alike, which is why the marriage record was transcribed as Mary T. With those combined records, I am confident I have, once again, found a record that lets me know something of the name, age, and relationships of my great-great-grandmother. This record gives her birth as September 1832, her age as 67 and as widowed for the third time.

The 1900 census also adds a new piece of information – she was the mother of five children, four of whom were still living in June 1900. None of the previous records listed a fifth child. With the ages of her children listed in 1860 of 8, 6, 2 and 4 months [with those age relationships remaining consistent in each of the census records], it is probable that her child who had died was one born between 1855 and 1857 who should have filled that missing age spot of 4 at the time of the 1860 census. It would, of course, also be possible she had a child with James Jackson who only lived a short time.

I have not found any other records for Sarah after the 1900 census. She was only 67 in the 1900 census so it is possible another marriage and surname could be responsible for not finding her. It is also possible she died between 1900 and 1910. No marriage record for a Sarah Edmondson has surfaced and no death record in that name has yet been found.

Her parents, grandparents, first husband and several siblings are buried in the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church Cemetery in Fayette County. This cemetery is located adjacent to her family homestead. She is likely buried there but no headstone is visible and no cemetery transcription has listed anyone with the name of Sarah.

I have no family stories, no pictures of her and no specific birth date, death date or burial location. All I know, in summary – my great-great-grandmother, Sarah A. Farquhar, was born in September 1832 to James and Basheba McGuire Farquhar, was married three times [Robert Welch, James Jackson and David Edmondson] and widowed three times. She had five children, four of whom lived to adulthood – Basheba Jane Welch Anderson, James Alexander Welch, Mary Isabella Welch Maddox and William Thomas Welch. She was a grandmother to 18  grandchildren.


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

Can Read, Can’t Write?

Everything I’ve ever known about education – curriculum – is that children begin to learn to read and write simultaneously from their very first days in elementary or grammar school. In transcribing information about my ancestors into my genealogy database, I’ve noted and wondered about those who recorded they could read but not write.

Beginning in 1850 and running through the 1880 census, one of the question sections was whether the person enumerated could read and/or write as well as if they had attended school within the past year.  Again, because of the current educational requirements, I would have expected every person between certain ages to have been checked for attending school and being able to read and write. However, that is not the case at all.

For example, in the 1870 census below, my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Farquhar Welch Jackson is shown by a slash mark (in the far right column) that she cannot write. The column just to the left of the slash mark indicates she could read. Her second husband, James Jackson, can both read and write. Her four children from her first marriage are all checked as having attended school within the year; Jane (18) and James (16) can both read and while Isabel (14) can read but not write and my great-grandfather Thomas (12) appears to have slashes indicating he can neither read nor write (later censuses indicated he could both read and write as was the case with the remaining children). educationParticularly intriguing to me is that sometimes even within the same family not all children had attended school within the past year. Sometimes it might be the youngest, say an eight-year-old, who hadn’t attended school within the year but those up to perhaps 18 had attended. With the current education system having had kindergartens for more than my lifetime and a requirement to begin school by age five or six, depending on where one’s birth date falls, I always wonder what family story might explain educational disparity within one family.

The 1940 census, which became available a little over a year ago, identifies the highest education level achieved for everyone within the household. This also sheds light on one’s family heritage. For example, I’ve known most of my life that my mother was orphaned before she turned eight and was sent to her father’s extended family in Carroll County, Virginia, where she did not attend school from 1922 until 1929, although due to her having attended school in Oilton, Oklahoma prior to that move, she was already able to read and write.

In reviewing my direct and indirect family lines by way of the 1940 census, I could see that the majority of the people in that Virginia community had between zero years of education and, perhaps, four to six, with an occasional exception.

Seeing these education levels sheds light on a major theme my grandfather, Jacob Lineberry who was from Carroll County, wrote in letters written around the turn of the 20th century to his brother still living in Virginia; for example, “… [I] hope people they will go to school and try and get an education. I find a man without education is like a horse without harness.” And again when he asked about his youngest brother, “Does Alex go to school I surely wish Papa would send him to school and let him get an education. It is a poor thing to start a boy out now without an education he will be doomed for hard work all his life And the hardest of the work.” In a later letter he said, ” I hope the little Brothers and Sisters will get a good education I think is worth more than a Father can give to a child. if Papa had given me a good education I would thank him for a thousand times but we was raised up like kins that is not sent to school. I hope he will try and send the other children to school if he will spend any money on them that is the only way and Leander try and send your children to school. I have tried enough of the world to know what a man needs.”

My mother apparently caught enough of her father’s attitude toward education that when she returned to Oklahoma, after a 7-year lapse in schooling while in Virginia, she began school in the third grade at age 15. As her teachers saw she was grasping concepts, they advanced her through the grades and within a year she was in the sixth grade. She continued with school until the tenth grade when lack of money to buy books and materials forced her to drop out.

Today, as I was reading some transcriptions of full newspapers from Lamar County, Alabama, which is a community in which I have had indirect family living, I noted the following article from the November 26, 1880 issue of The Vernon Clipper[1], which may shed some light on how it might happen that someone could read but not write.education

The first thing to notice is that the ad specifies the school is for both male and female students. From today’s perspective, we would never think about making sure to specify that girls were to be included in this educational opportunity. Second is that the school is not scheduled to open until November. With our schools opening in late August or perhaps the first days of September, it seems particularly odd to begin a school year in November. I would suppose the demands of crops and farm life established the optimal time for education.

Although this school’s divisions into Primary, Intermediate, Grammar and High School would not translate into anything comparable to grades within our education system, I would suspect Primary might be grades 1 and 2 and possibly 3; Intermediate might be grades 3, 4 and 5, with Grammar being what we might refer to as Middle School. The first educational thing I noted was that writing was not taught at all in the Primary grades; it was not begun until the Intermediate grades.

If Intermediate grades didn’t begin until, say, the fourth grade, that might explain why Isabel could read but not write at the age of 14 and perhaps why, if Sarah had only gone to school for the first two or three grades, that as an adult she might read but not write. It doesn’t, however, explain why Thomas might not have been able to either read or write at the age of 12, although there is some sort of mark on the census for him that makes it difficult to interpret what may be present in those boxes.

Additionally, note there is a fee for education versus the publicly funded education that has been available for everyone throughout my lifetime. Many families enumerated in these early censuses had as many as twelve or thirteen children and income was very limited. My great-grandfather J.F. Willis was a part-time minister. We found the minutes from one of his churches listing his salary for four separate years [it was unclear if these were annual salaries or monthly salaries, although most church budgets were annualized]:


The fee scale for the school was monthly and graduated based on education level. With J.F.’s income for the time period in mind and the fact he had seven children, his possible fees for one school year might have been 2 Primary students [$1.50 x 8 months each student] $24.00; 2 Intermediate students [$2.00 x 8 months each student] $32.00; 2 Grammar students [$2.50 x 8 months each student] $40.00; and one High School student [$3.00 for 8 months] $24.00. The annual cost for educating his children would have been $120.00 a year.

From this review, I now know children didn’t necessarily begin school at five or six and they didn’t learn to write at the same time they learned to read, all of which provides some insight into the education levels within my historical family.


[1] http://www.newspaperabstracts.com/link.php?action=detail&id=17809

Photo Identified – William Thomas & Mary Monroe ‘Mollie’ Sanford Welch

In February 2010, my daughter and I began trying to identify a photo; I sent the photo with a request for help to the Fayette County, Alabama rootsweb site and Kay posted a blog request. Part of the problem was the way we [I] had identified the picture [the handwriting appears to be mine] – I wrote on the back of it: “Ms. B. H. Willis, Rt. 1, Winfield – Grandparents of John H. Willis.” After several years of languishing in a miscellaneous photo box, that identification is really silly. I have an uncle (my father’s brother) named John H. Willis and you’d think, if I’d understood that John H. Willis to be my uncle, I might have noted the photograph as ‘Daddy’s grandparents”. But I didn’t. Additionally, we have no idea who Ms. B. H. Willis might be [or if those are the woman’s initials or her husband’s] and we have no known links of either Welch or Willis family to Winfield, even though it is near Fayette County. It’s been several months now and we’ve not discovered anything else about the photo.

During the summer, I made several contacts through Facebook, Ancestry.com, FindAGrave websites with several Willis and Welch descendents. A little over a week ago, one of those 2nd cousins posted a copy of that photo on her Internet family tree with the identification that it is a picture of William Thomas and Mary Monroe “Mollie” Welch – my daddy’s maternal grandparents. Unfortunately, when I asked who identified it as such, the answer was pretty weak, “It appears to have been written recently and when I asked my cousin, she said, ‘it looks like my handwriting so it must have been either something mother told me or something I thought I’d heard.'” Although I felt moderately at ease with this identification, I would like to have had a more certain identification.

This morning I got the same photo emailed to me from another 2nd cousin noting it as Tom and Mollie Welch; however, this time she said it is a scan of an original 8×10 photo she owns of her great-grandparents. I am so excited to know for sure these are my great-grandparents. William Thomas Welch (1860-1939, son of Robert and Sarah Farquhar Welch) and Mary Monroe “Mollie” Sanford Welch (1857-1931, daughter of Asa and Martha Jean Sanford).