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.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #30 – John Buckner, Sr.

What I know about my 3rd great-grandfather, John Buckner, Sr., is limited, as is the case for most of my ancestors born in the 1700s. I found an obituary for John in the June 16, 1877 edition of the Nashville Christian Advocate. It was brief but gave some much wanted details:

“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.”

Although that information provides the beginning and ending and even 3 brief pieces of information about everything between 1798 and 1876 [he married, he moved, he bore children], it’s still pretty limited. So, what else have I been able to discover about him?

The earliest Buckner record I found for a John Buckner in east Tennessee is for 1830 and there are two Buckners listed: John and what is likely a brother, Thomas, since they are neighbors and similar in age. There are no other Buckners in any of the surrounding pages and no Lindseys or any other surnames that have been proposed as possible parents for either John or Rachel Lindsey. An 1872 obituary for the oldest daughter, EmmaLisa, stated she was born in Sevier County, Tennessee [which is in east Tennessee] in 1818 and so finding John Buckner in the 1830 Sevier County census was reasonably expected. The ages of the household members for John generally fit the known children in the family [males on the left and females on the right]: William (1824), John (1798), EmmaLisa (1818), Elizabeth (1819), Nancy (1821), Rachel (1826). Martha (1828) and Rachel (1797). 1830 CensusSupporting the information from the obituary, an 1840 census for Blount County, Alabama has the John Buckner family enumerated in that county. The ages of the children, again, are generally appropriate for the known children in the family – males [right to left] William (1824), John (1832), Thomas (1833) and Jessie (1839) and females [right to left] Elizabeth (1819), Nancy (1821), Rachel (1826), Martha (1828), Mary Ann ‘Polly’ (1830), and Angelina (1836). 1840 censusThe 1850 census for Blount County finally gave names and ages of the household members; of course, several of the older children were already married and living in their own households. Two more children were added in the decade: Jesse Wilson (1841) and Levi (1842). New pieces of information include the North Carolina birth location for Rachel Lindsey Buckner and the birth location for Angelina supporting the move to Alabama in 1836. 1850 censusAn 1855 state census and an 1857 land patent indicate John and his family were still in Blount County up to that point, while the 1860 census showed showed a move to Fayette County, Alabama. The three youngest children were still living in the household but several of their children had also moved with their families, including my 2nd great-grandparents, their son, John Buckner, Jr. The tick marks to the far right indicate neither John nor Rachel could read or write. 1860 census Although no details have emerged, John’s wife, Rachel, must have died in Fayette County some time after this census was taken. John, Thomas, Jesse and Levi all joined the Confederate Army; Jesse got sick and died in June 1862 and John after marching to Tennessee got sick and died in September 1862. John, Sr. moved back to Blount County where he married Mrs. Mary Savage nee Golden on October 26, 1862.

John and Mary had five children together: C.J. Ransada (1863), James (1865), Sarah Ann (1868), Barnett (1871) and Alfred [or Abel] Pierce (1875). As stated in his obituary, John died December 16, 1876. I have not yet found where he was buried.


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





52 Ancestors #29 – Edith F. McCarter Collins

My 3rd great-grandmother was Edith F. Collins, nee McCarter. She was born about 1789 to John McCarter and Amy Evans, probably in South Carolina. She married John M. Collins sometime before 1808.

The 1810 census for John and Edith listed them with two female children under 10: S. Ann and Judah. Her father, John McCarter, was enumerated six lines down from John and Edith.1810 censusThe 1820 census for John and Edith shows tic marks for the same two daughters and four sons born between 1810 and 1820, plus three males born between 1805 and 1810. Since there were no males listed in the 1810 census, I cannot account for those three boys and they could have been siblings to either John or Edith or boys from the community earning keep by working. The four sons were Alexander McCarter, Thomas, William F., and John Whitten. 1820 censusThe 1830 census was clearly a mixture of two households so the tic marks could not be effectively pulled apart. We know from other records that Edith and John had three more sons: Richard, Joel, and James B. They also had three more daughters:  Edy, Amy and Sarah. Amy was my great-great-grandmother.

The family moved from Spartanburg in about 1834 and the 1840 census in Fayette County was another record of a blended household of multiple adults and young children and the 1850 mortality census listed both John and Edith with Edith dying in May of 1850 in Fayette County, Alabama. Although it is assumed she is buried at the Old Mount Lebanon Cemetery, there is no headstone to mark the location.


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