I have two documents that create a time conflict for my understanding of when Levi Houston and his family migrated from Maryland to Kentucky.
The first one is a deed of gift from Joseph Schoolfield II to his daughter Sarah Ewell, where he is giving to his daughter and son-in-law three young slaves. One of the witnesses is Levi Houston; the date is 7 Sep 1812.
The second document is a deed dated 15 Sep 1812 in Bracken County, Kentucky where Levi Houston is purchasing land from Lawson Dobyns and his wife Mary.
In 1812 it was physically impossible to travel from Worcester County, Maryland to Bracken County, Kentucky in one week. So how did this happen?
Because I was puzzling over this conflict, the dates stuck with me. Then one day I noticed that Levi and Dolly’s son Joseph Houston got married on 27 Sep 1812 in Bracken County to Delilah Weldon. (Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850). That strikes me as a short engagement. Then I realized that Levi and Dolly’s daughter Nancy married Thomas Dix on 6 Jul 1811 (Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850). Their daughter Sarah Houston married John Secrist on or about 10 Jul 1812. Oh look, here’s Levi as a witness to the marriage license.
Ah, see Joseph was already in Bracken County in July, so his marriage to Delilah Weldon in September is looking more realistic. Now I know that at least one member of the Houston family, Nancy, was in Bracken County as early as 6 July 1811. She was only 23 at the time; it is highly unlikely her parents would have allowed her to come alone. Unless this was a whirlwind romance, I think the Houston family was already in Bracken County before that marriage took place.
Looking again at the deed for the land in Bracken County, Levi paid $1400 for 430 acres on the Ohio River. From where did he get this money? Part of it might have come from two land sales on 28 Dec 1810 in Somerset County, Maryland. In Deed Book U, pg 4 is recorded a sale of land for $580 and in the same book on pg 15 is another sale for $256. I didn’t have these documents before because Somerset County, Maryland deeds can only be found by going to the Family History Center, not from home.
It would seem that some time between 28 Dec 1810 and 6 Jul 1811, the entire Houston family moved from Maryland to Kentucky. This still doesn’t solve the time conflict, but it suggests that one of Levi’s sons was entrusted with purchasing the land in their father’s name while Levi was in Worcester County, Maryland witnessing a deed of gift.
Migration is fluid; travel back and forth was common even across the Atlantic Ocean. It pays to be open-minded about family members staying in contact and conducting business over great distances. I’m glad to have more information to support at least a plausible reason why Levi was one place while business was being conducted in his name in another place.
In my earlier post A Plausible Theory I began the search for the parents of my Dolly Schoolfield who was born 25 Feb 1759 in Worcester Co MD. I poked gaping holes in the prevailing belief that her parents were John Schoolfield and Mary Richardson, then went on to posit the theory she might be one of the two unidentified children of Joseph Schoolfield who died intestate in 1767. I also stated that if I found records that called that theory into question, I would move off it and develop a new one. Here is an entry in the 1790 US Census for Worcester County, Maryland:
Um. Hmmm. Okay. That second Joseph Schoolfield has an abbreviation for Junior after it. For my theory to work, there needed to be only one Joseph Schoolfield in the 1790 census. There are two. Granted the identifier of Jun. doesn’t necessarily mean these two men are related. This is an alphabetical list. Census and tax takers commonly referred to two men with the same name in the same area as Senior and Junior, but family relationships weren’t noted. As often as not it only meant that one was older than the other.
If what happened next were a movie, the music score for it would have a beat that sounded like a head banging on a desk, and the melody would sound like a vacuum cleaner as I hoovered up all the early Worcester Co MD Wills and Deeds for the surname Schoolfield, then struggled to make sense of them. I am a big fan of timelines. Putting things in the order in which they happened shows us things we wouldn’t normally see. So I deployed the Lazy Genealogist’s version of abstracting documents, and put them in order by date.
Lo and behold, right after the 1790 Census list of names were these two deeds:
5 Jun 1791 Joseph Schoolfield Senior sells to his son William Schoolfield part of SCHOOLFIELD’S PLEASURE AND RECOVERY Book O pg 146
25 Jun 1791 Joseph Schoolfield and his son Joseph Mitchelly Schoolfield part of SCHOOLFIELD’S PLEASURE Book O pg 149
There are various ways to convey property to one’s heirs: by writing a Will with specific instructions; dying intestate and allowing all the land to be entailed on the oldest son; give or sell the property directly to the intended heirs.
The person I’m calling Joseph Schoolfield the 1st died in 1744 and willed to his son John land called SMITH’S FIRST CHOICE. He willed to his son Joseph the 2nd part of a piece of land called DESART and all of an adjoining piece of land called RECOVERY. No mention was made of any of his sons being minors, so I’m assigning a birth year of 1722 to Joseph the 2nd to make him easily old enough to inherit the land without a guardian. It appears to me that the land RECOVERY passes from Joseph Schoolfield the 1st to his son Joseph Schoolfield the 2nd, to his son Joseph Schoolfield the 3rd. Joseph Schoolfield the 2nd, then, would be the Joseph Schoolfield in the above 1790 census, and Joseph the 3rd would be Joseph Schoolfield Junior in that census. (Did I forget to mention that the music score has a refrain that sounds very much like under-the-breath invectives?) If Joseph the 2nd was born about 1722, he would have been about 69 years-old when he sold that property to his sons for fifteen shillings per son. That’s an age when someone would be getting affairs in order.
Taken alone the 1800 Census can be interpreted in more than one way. Combined with other records, the possible stories it can tell narrow significantly. Here is a Joseph Schoolfield living next door to Levi and Dolly Houston:
Joseph and Levi are both shown as males 45+. Levi was born 9 Sep 17551. He is 45. Looking at later census records, Joseph the 3rd was born sometime from 1755 to 1761, making him Levi Houston’s peer.
On the page before the one above is a different Joseph Schoolfield.
See the correction made by the enumerator? That column is for males from age 16 to 25. My interpretation of this correction is that this Joseph Schoolfield is 26, giving him a birth year of 1774. That lines up with the 1820 census. I know it seems like I’m going pretty far into the weeds here, but it is important to establish that this is probably Joseph Schoolfield the 4th, aka the new Joseph Schoolfield Junior. He is now a grown up man able to start purchasing land in his own name:
7 Jun 1802 Joseph Schoolfield Junior purchased part of GREAT CONVENIENCY (sic) in Pitts Creek Hundred (located next to Levi Houston’s swamp) Book V pg 163
This next (abridged) document is the very first one I’ve found where there is anything like a connection between the Schoolfield family and the Houston family. It is also the earliest document I’ve found with Dolly’s name on it.
CHESTNUT RIDGE came to Levi Houston from the Will of his grandfather, James Houston (Worcester Co MD Will Book 4 pages 111-2) in 1772. Levi paid the supply tax on it in 1783. So here he is selling it and HOUSTON’S LOTT to Joseph Schoolfield Junior for 100 dollars in 1805. The next document I found is where George Schoolfield (son of Levi and Dolly named George Schoolfield Houston) sold land to Nehemiah Schoolfield in 1811 (Book AB pg 425).
Fair warning: trigger alert. This next document is not a happy one. It is revolting and sad and reality for the time period.
Joseph Schoolfield Senior (the 3rd) [EDIT: I now think this was Joseph Schoolfield the 2nd, that he was still alive, based on the ages of his daughter Sarah Ewell and her husband Charles] is giving children ages 11, 7 and 4 years of age to his daughter Sarah Ewell in Accomack, Virginia as slaves. I’m not going to go on a tear about how awful this is; nobody needs a lesson in morality from me. I’m going to point to the significance of this document: One of the witnesses is Levi Houston for one, and this is the last known document that shows Levi Houston living in Maryland for two. After this his family and their slaves migrate to Bracken County, Kentucky, thus ending all opportunities for contact between the two families.
I discovered an even more remarkable document dated 12 December 1830 in Worcester County Maryland Deed Book AW pages 139-142. Levi Houston died 11 Feb 1824 in Bracken County, Kentucky. The executors of his Will were two sons James and Joseph Houston. In that capacity they granted their power of attorney to recover and sell a runaway slave named Peter, who ran away before the family moved to Kentucky if he could be found. The document also reveals that on the way to Kentucky, the family lost another runaway slave named Grace while they were in Pittsburgh, PA (a busy gathering point for people headed to Kentucky via the Ohio River). And to whom do they give this power of attorney? Joseph Schoolfield (the 3rd) in Worcester County, Maryland, who was still alive in 1830 (he died in 1834). If I’m understanding this document correctly, Peter was located and was allowed to purchase his freedom for 100 dollars.
So what am I saying in all this? I’m looking very seriously at Joseph Schoolfield the 3rd as Dolly’s brother, and therefore, Joseph Schoolfield the 2nd as her father. It’s just a theory, like the one before it, but one with a better road map for making the case.
1 Coventry P.E. Church, Somerset Co., MD Parish and Vestry Records, Vol 1 from familysearch.org
As a genealogy hobbyist, I have found myself drawn to a couple sub-specialties in the field of family research: helping people find Revolutionary War Patriots in their trees, and tracking down family lore. After spending some quality time helping others find more Patriots, I was suddenly without a project. I decided to apply what I’d learned about research to my own family and quickly discovered a new patriot! He is the father of one of my existing patriots, Levi Houston.
What about his wife, Dolly Schoolfield? Could I find some form of patriotic service for her father as well? To clarify, patriotic service does not have to be military in nature. It can take the form of paying a supply tax, swearing an oath of fidelity, serving on a jury, supplying food, clothing, transportation, medical relief, etc. This significantly raises the age of an individual who could be considered for recognition by the DAR. Someone far too old to bear arms could provide any number of allowed types of service with no limit to age. This is why I could contemplate looking for service for Dolly’s father.
Raise your hand if you’ve attached someone to your tree as a result of a shaky leaf hint without doing the research to support the relationship. *Raises hand*. I added Dolly’s parents and their parents years ago to my tree based solely on shaky leaves, then never gave them another thought.
The prevailing belief about Dolly Schoolfield’s parents is that they were John Schoolfield born 1730 in Worcester County, Maryland, and either Mary Richison or Richardson, no info. The vital stats on Dolly that have been accepted by the DAR are: born 25 Feb 1759 in Worcester Co MD, died 12 Feb 1836 in Bracken Co KY, married 1777 in Maryland. The closest I’ve come to a legit source for this data is the DAR. Earlier descendants of Dolly and Levi provided the information with no supporting documentation like a bible or baptism reference. The information had been handed down somehow to descendants of the first known child of Dolly and Levi: George Schoolfield Houston. One of these early applicants was the granddaughter of George Schoolfield Houston, making Dolly her great-grandmother. That’s good enough for me.
Using the year 1759 as a starting point, Dolly’s father needed to be at least 21, so he had to be born no later than 1738. The shaky leaf hint pointed to a John Schoolfield born 1730, son of Henry Schoolfield and Ann Bozman. I looked at the trees that had attached this person to see if I could track down the source. Nothing jumped out at me, so the search was expanded. Eventually I read a reference to a newspaper article that appeared on page 13 on 8 July 1906 in the Baltimore Sun. I highly recommend any Maryland Schoolfield researcher make the effort to find it on newspapers.com. Here is the part that matters to this topic:
There he is, just like everyone said: John Schoolfield, son of Henry and Ann, b. 3 Feb 1730. Wait, what? Died 12 Feb 1720? Clearly he didn’t die 10 years before he was born; that is a typo. Still, he died when he was 9 days old. This article doesn’t mention the second John born to this couple, but records from Coventry Parish Church in Somerset, MD reveals this family had another son named John.
This John was born in 1747, making him too young to be Dolly’s (b. 1759) father.
Why are people so sure Dolly’s father is John Schoolfield and Mary Richardson (I have yet to find anyone in Worcester Co MD from that time period with the surname Richison.)? Time to look for any other John Schoolfield married to a Mary Richardson. There are two probable options.
John Schoolfield #1 is the son of Joseph Schoolfield (brother of the aforementioned Henry). His Will, written 13 Jan 1772, can be found on familysearch.org in Worcester Co MD Will Book 4 image 74. In it he acknowledges his wife Mary (Martin) and is very specific to state that she is to inherit any property that was hers before their marriage, and that no part of his estate is to go to pay any of her debts from before their marriage. This suggests that they were married later in life. Indeed, that seems to be the case given that when she died, her 1777 nuncupative Will (Worcester Co MD book JW4 images 203-4) only mentions children from her first marriage to John Richardson. Neither document mentions Dolly.
John Schoolfield #2 was the son of John Schoolfield #1. He died intestate; a bond was filed on 1 Nov 1796. His wife Mary was named administrator. The documents for this time period were never filmed by familysearch.org. Someone on Facebook recommended I contact the Nabb Research Center for help finding the resolution to this estate. A researcher there found the partition of land for this estate in 1806 that names the heirs-at-law: Nancy, Harrison A, Mary Ann, John, William and minor son Robert. That this Mary Schoolfield is a Richardson is a guess on my part. On 18 Jan 1788 a Will for Robert Richardson was proven in which he names a daughter Mary Schoolfield (Worcester Co MD Will Book 13 image 105). There was a Benjamin Schoolfield who was also married to a woman named Polly. He died in 1799. Either way, that John Schoolfield isn’t Dolly’s father either.
I’ll admit that at one point I began to doubt Dolly was a Schoolfield. Yet evidence began to mount that she belongs in this extended family. Near as I can tell, there were three sons born to the original Maryland Schoolfield immigrant who might have been Benjamin Schoolfield. One son, Benjamin Jr. daughtered out. The remaining sons, Henry and Joseph represent the two branches of the Worcester/Somerset Schoolfield family. Members of both lines chain-migrated to Bracken County, Kentucky from about 1797 to about 1816. Joseph’s grandson Robert Schoolfield was the first to appear in the tax records in Bracken County. Eventually most if not all of the offspring of Henry’s grandson George Thomas Schoolfield followed. The family established the Bracken Academy in Augusta, KY. More than one teacher in the area bore the surname Schoolfield. Dolly and Levi Houston moved to Bracken County as well in 1812. At least some of their known children accompanied them. The question remains: who are her parents?
Well, I have a working theory. Since I’ve accounted for all of Henry’s sons/grandsons who could be of the correct age, that leaves sons and grandsons of Joseph. Robert Schoolfield, the anchor for the chain migration to Bracken Co was the son of John Schoolfield #1 from above. John Schoolfield #1 had a brother Joseph. Joseph died intestate in 1767. His widow Rebecca (Ennis) remarried to William Anderson Parker. Together they settled his estate. That final account leaves behind a tantalizing clue. In Worcester County Accounts Book Liber 60 page 340-1 presented to the court an accounting of the assets of Joseph Schoolfield in 1769 amounting to 71 pounds 15 shillings. After all the debts were paid, what remained was 39 pounds 19 shillings and 11 pence.
It helps to know that the term infants was what we call minors. People up to the age of 20 could be called infants. As it happens, Dolly would have been 9 years old at the time of this accounting. Was she one of the two children of Joseph and Rebecca Schoolfield? There is no mention of her in the Will of William Anderson Parker. He names children, but not her. Dolly would have been married 11 years by the time William A Parker died in 1788. I’m still looking to see what happened to Rebecca.
What could account for the persistent belief that Dolly’s parents were John and Mary Schoolfield? Part of my theory involves the possibility that when Rebecca remarried to William A. Parker, she farmed her first two children out to Joseph’s family to raise. Like, say, for instance John Schoolfield #2 who might have married Mary Richardson? There are other options, of course, but this one, given what I’ve learned so far, is at least plausible.
Like all theories, they stand or fall over time based on new evidence. I’ll happily abandon this theory if better information appears. For now I can find nothing to support the belief that Dolly’s parents were John and Mary Schoolfield.
Autosomal DNA testing is such a miracle. How did people do genealogy before this technology was introduced? You know what else is a miracle? Ancestry message boards. Well, genealogy message boards in general. Third miracle? The Family History Library. Well, the Mormon church with all their dedication to preserving our heritage on microfilm. It’s like the holy trinity of ancestor worship.
Too much? I effuse about all three things coming out of Utah right now. I would not have gotten as far as I have with tracking down the ancestors of my James Henry Myers without all three of these capabilities. Bored of him yet? I wouldn’t blame you if you were, but honestly, this story just keeps getting better and better, and promises to get even better. I’m having too much fun right now.
Quick refresher from previous posts: DNA results led me to the father of James Henry Myers: Jacob Myers. Ancestry Discovery and FHL digital marriage image led me to a possible biological parent for Jacob Myers (James’ father) in John Naylor. FHL digital search gave me the marriage record for Jacob to Amarilla Cox.
One of the problems with breaking down one brick wall is that there is another brick wall right behind it. Never thought in a million years I might figure out who were the parents of Amarilla Cox. On paper, I may have found them.
Let me see if I can adequately recap the timeline of how this progress came about. I performed a Google search for Emarilier Cox, the name on the marriage record. I discovered a message board post asking for information from her descendants. Lucky for me the individual who posted it is still a member of Ancestry, so I was able to send a message to her; we began corresponding. She has a wealth of information about Jacob Myers. I learned from her that he, and subsequently his ‘widow’ had a Civil War pension file, which I ordered. My first reading from it didn’t give much new information since I’m not descended from his last wife, but it does present me with the ability to create a timeline of where he was and when from 1850 until his death in 1888. This is valuable for many reasons, primarily because he’s so difficult to pin down in Census records, and there might be another Jacob Myers in Putnam county around the same time. She also told me about a record where Jacob had transferred ownership of some land to Amarilla Cox after they married.
Meanwhile I requested the index to court records for Putnam County from Family Search. Armed with case and page numbers from the index, I ordered the reel with the first two volumes of court records and read through the references. The index showed me a tantalizing Myers v. Myers file that I was eager to learn more about. My thought was that it might have been a divorce record for his first wife Elizabeth Minick. Imagine my surprise when I found that he had initiated divorce proceedings against Amarilla! He married Amarilla on 18 May 1856. What do I find for 18 Oct 1856?
The cad. The birth month and year I have for James Henry Myers is May 1857. Uh. Hmmm. Anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Was this a shotgun wedding? Was James conveniently told he was born in 1857 rather than 1856? Luckily the index gave a case number for this petition. I called the Putnam County Circuit Court this week and learned this file still exists! I’m excited to learn what, if anything, might have been said about Amarilla when the copy is received. (On a side note: the woman who helped me with this is super nice.) I do know from these records and the clerk that the divorce was not granted.
I haven’t captured an image of it yet, but on that same reel is a reference to another case where Jacob was indicted for Felonious Assualt with Intent to Kill! I suspect that is going to be another post all by itself. I’m on pins and needles waiting for the copy of that file! Key in the record was mention of a witness named Martha Cox. It doesn’t take much to guess how little time transpired between me getting home from the Family History Center and searching the 1860 Census for Martha Cox2.
I love my life. This thing is so tantalizing and has so many possibilities. James H. Cox aged 5. None of the people who have saved this image to their Cox lines have a clue who that is, or the set of two-year-old twins on the page. I can’t stop myself from speculating that James H. Cox is really James H. Myers, and that he is living with his grandparents. If James really was born in 1856, then he would have just turned four when this census was taken. If he really was three, this is a stretch, but not unheard of if the informant was John Cox. A forty-seven-year-old male not knowing how old his grandchildren are is hardly news.
Enter the Message Board Miracle, part deux. Back in 2001, a message was posted asking for descendants of John T. Cox from the 1860’s. Other people might remember when Heritage Quest had superior transcriptions for census records before Ancestry ruined it. Back then I could have found this record myself. Bless this person’s heart for transcribing this to make it so I could find it now, because Ancestry’s transcription of it is way off.
John T. Cox 35 KY (the initial is actually an ‘S’)
Martha Cox 35 KY
Lucrecy C. Cox 15 KY
Winey A. Cox 13 KY
Lucinda P. Cox 10 KY
Leann E. Cox 6 KY
Jeremiah Cox 4 KY
These are significant names. That same Missouri marriage database that gave me the Cox-Myers marriage record also has the three other girls on this census: Lucinda married Richard Summers. They are living next door to Margaret and John in the 1860 Census. Lucretia married F.P. Ashlock; Leann E married Solomon Wisman. Amarilla married Jacob Myers…all of them took place in the 1850’s in Putnam County. Is Amarilla that Winey A. Cox? The age is plausible; the proximity to the other Cox girls is supportive. James’ 1900 Census record reports that his mother was born in Kentucky. I’m prepared for this to fall apart. Not for the first time with this family. I will probably have to wait to see if a descendant from one of these other children gives me a DNA match I need for proof, but I’m hopeful that I’ve made some serious progress on this family thanks to some 14-15 year-old message board posts, FHL and Ancestry DNA.
1 Court records v. A-B 1855-1867 Putnam County, FHL Film # 1010790