My 2nd Great Grandparents – John and Elizabeth Osburn

(Left to Right) Job Booten, Abraham Vaughan, Walter Osburn, John Vaughan, John Samuel Osburn
Lucinda Vaughan, Selthana Wilson, Martha Vaughan, Virginia Caroline Wilson, Elizabeth Vaughan

I talked about my Osburn family connections in Wayne County, West Virginia in earlier posts and my three family lines that lead back to my 4th/5th great grandparents Edmund and Mary (Noe) Osburn. One of those lines included my 2nd great grandparents John Samuel Osburn (1848-1919) and Elizabeth Leah Vaughan (1857-1929), shown above on the right side of the picture.

John Samuel Osburn was born in Wayne County, (West) Virginia, the son of John ‘Jack’ Osburn (1821-1891) and Nellie Napier (1826-1898). Jack and Nellie Osburn owned one of the largest farms in the county and John Samuel was their oldest son. When Virginia seceded from the Union, in 1861, he was barely 12 years old and too young to fight in either army.

After the war, John Samuel married his cousin Margaret Ferguson (1849-1878), the daughter of John Ferguson and Amanda Morris. John Ferguson was a Captain in the Confederate Army, though the records of service have been lost in time. He was killed in action as his Company took the field during Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg on July 3rd, 1863. I wrote about Amanda’s life after her husband’s death in an earlier post.

John and Margaret had four daughters, Amanda, Nellie, Louisa, and Salona Osburn, before Margaret died at the age of 26 from consumption.

John, a widower with four young daughters, remarried in 1877 to Elizabeth Leah Vaughan, also born in Wayne County, (West) Virginia, the youngest child of Thomas Vaughan, Jr. and Minerva Walker. Elizabeth was 21 years old, nearly 10 years younger than John, at the time of their marriage and the widow of Nathan D. Harvey, whom she had married in 1873.

John and Elizabeth would have at least 10 children between 1878 to 1901, including my great grandfather Fred Miller Osburn (1890-1965), and lived their lives as farmers in Wayne County, West Virginia. John passed away in 1919 and Elizabeth was living with their son Wayne Osburn in 1920 in Nestlow, Wayne County, where she remained until her death in 1929.

When thinking about my family history, I often focus on the lives of my ancestors – the husbands and wives, children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents – the people who lived to make up my direct family tree. However, in this particular case, I am reminded also of the people who died. Both John and Elizabeth had lost a spouse before their marriage. If either Margaret Ferguson or Nathan Harvey had survived, well, I wouldn’t be here to write this post.

A sobering thought for this chilly May morning.

Do you descend from the 2nd or 3rd (or 4th) husband or wife of an ancestor? I think we probably all have examples of how a death (or divorce or abandonment) led to the birth of a direct ancestor.

I don’t have an exact date for this photo, but it was probably taken during a Vaughan family reunion sometime between 1900 and 1910. I am related, by blood or marriage, to everyone in the picture and will explore this family in greater detail in later posts.

Joseph and Catharina Cantrell

Old Swedes Church – Wilmington, Delaware

In an earlier post, I talked about my 8th great-grandparents Richard and Dorothy (Jones) Cantrell and their four known children, Mary, Joseph, Zebulon, and Dorothy. I descend from their son Joseph Cantrell.

In her 1908 book The Cantrill-Cantrell Genealogy : a record of the descendants of Richard Cantrill, who was a resident of Philadelphia prior to 1689, and of earlier Cantrills in England and America, Susan Cantrill Christie’s biography of Joseph states that he was born in about 1695 in Philadelphia and grew up in the city. In about 1719, Joseph married Catharina and settled in the area that would become New Castle County, Delaware.

Christie’s book does not provide a last name for Catharine and suggests that she was probably the descendant of the original Swedish settlers of the area that had been known as New Sweden. Joseph and Catharina had at least six children, the three oldest (Hannah, John, and Joseph) were baptized in the Old Swedes Church in present day Wilmington, Delaware. The Church services were performed and records were kept in Swedish (further supporting the notion that Catharina may have been of Swedish heritage).

As an aside – While researching, you will find many family trees that show Catharina’s name as Catharine Heath. This is an example of the power of repetition on the internet. The rumor of Catharina’s last name was started several years ago by a well-known Cantrell family historian. He later retracted his statements and begged people to eliminate references to “Heath” from their family trees. However, the cat was already out of the bag and her name appears in thousands of electronic records as “Catherine Heath”.

I visited the Old Swedes Church in Wilmington a couple years ago. I was still searching for evidence of my 5th great-grandfather Elijah’s parentage. That said, I strongly suspected that I was connected to Joseph and Catharina and wanted to experience a place they had visited during the lives.

I entered through this door. The guide gave a brief history lesson about New Sweden before we entered the Church grounds.

As with the Gloria Dei in Philadelphia, Old Swedes in Wilmington is surrounded by an extensive graveyard. Research into the number of graves and the people who rest here is ongoing.

The building has no indoor plumbing or basement. The floor and foundation, as you can see in this photo, is made of brick and rests directly on the ground. With the exception of the stained-glass window, the alter area is as it was during the time my grandparents attended services here. My great aunt and uncles would have been baptized in this very spot, over 300 years ago.

Since my visit, I used analysis of my Y-DNA to determine that I most likely descend from Isaac Cantrell, Joseph and Catharina’s fifth child. There is no record of Isaac’s baptism, though he too is believed to have been born in New Castle County.

In the 1730s, shortly after the birth of their sixth child (a daughter whose name has been lost in time), Joseph and Catharina moved their family to Orange County, Virginia. By the 1750s, the Cantrell family had relocated south again to Orange County, North Carolina.

The death dates and locations of Joseph and Catharina are not precisely known. It is possible, based on tax records, that Joseph was living with his son John in 1754 in Orange County, North Carolina, though the evidence is indirect and far from conclusive. Even less is known about Catharina’s death or burial place.

What became apparent to me as I researched the lives of my 7th great-grandparents and their children is that my Cantrell family was part of the great southern migration. Like so many others, they moved their families through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, some settling in Virginia and while others moved on to North Carolina.

From there, the paths of my Cantrell ancestors took them to South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, (West) Virginia, and Kentucky – and beyond. I am still researching their stories and will share more in later posts.

Edmund Osburn Revisited

I wrote about my 4th/5th great-grandfather Edmund Osburn (1770-1844) of Wayne County, (West) Virginia around 3 weeks ago. Since then, I’ve had several great clues about his potential ancestry.

My thinking about Edmund has changed a bit in the last few weeks. I had been influenced, through conversations with a knowledgeable cousin, to think that a proposed connection a family of Osbornes in colonial Connecticut was very unlikely. Since my post, though, I learned that the same cousin had a DNA test which suggested that he (and, by extension, I) was a descendant of those Connecticut Osbornes. Apparently, he did not want to believe the results.

I get it. It took me a while to get used to the results of my Y-DNA test.

So, I have spent parts of the past three weeks going through websites and communicating with people who are far, far more familiar with Osburn/Osborne ancestry that I am. It has been a bit challenging and confusing, as all new lines of research tend to be for me. I have found that researchers who have a deep understanding of a particular family line tend to speak in shorthand about different lines of research.

I get that, too. In my Cantrell line, long time researchers often ask if you are a descendant of Isaac or John. If you are familiar with the two brothers that many Cantrells descend from, this shortcut helps to establish you in a specific part of the family tree.

However, I am not as familiar with my Osburn line, so the shorthand is often confusing for me. I am working on it, though, and I am really enjoying the challenge of learning new family lines.

Last time I outlined my connection to Richard and Dorothy (Jones) Cantrell. In this post, I am going to show the various paths my family takes back to Edmund and Mary (Noe) Osburn. Like last time, I will start with my parents and work backwards in time. Unlike last time, I actually have three paths to trace back in time.

My first line to Edmund goes like this (dates are approximates):

  • Minnie Deloris Osborne (1939-2020) and Donald Cantrell (1935-2010)
  • Dewey Osborne (1909-1974) and Minnie Griffin (1913-1991)
  • Fred Miller Osburn (1890-1965) and Cora Lee Davis (1891-1975)
  • John Samuel Osburn (1848-1919) and Elizabeth Vaughan (1857-1929)
  • John ‘Jack’ Osburn (1821-1891) and Nellie Napier (1826-1898)
  • John Osburn (1798-1859) and Cynthia Ferguson (1790-1831)
  • Edmund Osburn (1770-1844) and Mary Noe (1776-1869)

My second line to Edmund begins with my grandmother’s father’s line and goes like this (again, dates are approximate):

  • Minnie Griffin (1913-1991) and Dewey Osborne (1909-1974)
  • McClellan ‘Mack’ Griffin (1877-1957) and Cynthia Osburn (1879-1965)
  • Morris ‘Buell’ Griffin (1852-1900) and Martha Francis (1854-1943)
  • Jesse Francis (1826-1912) and Malinda Osburn (1826-1926)
  • John Osburn (1798-1859) and Cynthia Ferguson (1790-1831)
  • Edmund Osburn (1770-1844) and Mary Noe (1776-1869)

Finally, my third line to Edmund begins with my grandmother’s mother’s line and goes like this (again, dates are approximate):

  • Cynthia Osburn (1879-1965) and McClellan ‘Mack’ Griffin (1852-1957)
  • William Osburn (1852-1921) and Rebecca Ferguson (1850-1930)
  • John Osburn (1798-1859) and Susan Jackson (1814-1898)
  • Edmund Osburn (1770-1844) and Mary Noe (1776-1869)

As you can see, I descend from three of John Osburn’s children – John ‘Jack’ Osburn and Malinda Osburn from his first wife Cynthia Ferguson, and William Osburn from his second wife Susan Jackson. Depending on which line I trace back, John is either my 3rd or 4th great-grandfather, while Edmund is either my 4th or 5th great-grandfather.

I still need time to unwind all the inter-family relationships and marriages for my mom’s family line. I have spent more than enough time breaking through my Cantrell family brick wall and it is now time for me to put the same effort into my Osborne line.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their time and expertise thus far. If I seemed confused by your questions, comments, or answers, it is because I am! I haven’t put in enough time yet to be familiar with the family shorthand – but I will!

My Cantrell Family Line

My Grandfather Monroe Cantrell’s Family

Last week I wrote about Richard and Dorothy (Jones) Cantrill of Philadelphia, my 8th great-grandparents, and since then I have received a number of responses, comments, and questions about my Cantrell family line. Thank you to everyone who reach out to me! I enjoy learning about my (very) extended family.

My direct line from Richard and Dorothy was a mystery to me for many years and consumed an enormous amount of my family history time. I wrote a little about my first genealogical brick wall, Elijah Cantrell, a few weeks ago and the surprising way I broke through to my larger Cantrell family.

Today, I will explain a bit more about my connection to Richard and Dorothy.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Shortly after I discovered the internet and the wealth of information about my family history that could be found there, I hit the brick wall of my 4th great-grandfather Elijah Cantrell. My line to Elijah goes like this (some dates are approximates) –

  • Donald Cantrell (1935-2010) and Minnie Deloris Osborne (1939-2020)
  • Monroe Cantrell (1904-1967) and Ruth Johnston (1908-1993)
  • Elijah Cantrell (1872-1935) and Margaret Bolin (1871-1958)
  • John Keaton Cantrell (1830-1910) and Elizabeth Salyer (1833-1921)
  • John Cantrell (1798-1860) and Margaret Smith (1801-1880)
  • Elijah Cantrell (abt. 1775-1835) and Margaret “Peggy” Conley (1779-unknown)

For years, this was my Cantrell line. While my 4th great-grandfather appears in a few records in Floyd and Morgan County, Kentucky, I was not able to locate any record pertaining to his birth or parentage. I knew that he was probably born in North Carolina (based on information reported by his children during the US Census) and that he immigrated to Kentucky sometime between 1810 and 1820 (based on marriage records of his children).

Based on his presumed birth location and approximate birth year, it was a relatively safe assumption that he descended from the many Cantrell descendants of Richard and Dorothy living in North Carolina during the time of the American Revolution.

But which one?

The names Elijah and Peggy used for their children provided clues, though the results are by no means conclusive. It was a common practice in the early 1800s to name children in a specific order. First son after husband’s father. First daughter after wife’s mother. Second son after wife’s father. Second daughter after husband’s mother.

I poured over census and marriage records and determined the possible birth order of their first four children as –

  • John Cantrell (born about 1798)
  • Nancy Cantrell (born about 1800)
  • Elizabeth Cantrell (born about 1804)
  • Henry Cantrell (born about 1806)

Peggy’s parents were Henry Connelly and Ann MacGregor, so I was struggling with my working theory until I learned that it was very common for women named Ann (in the late 1700s) to go by Nan or Nancy. That gave possible clues for Elijah’s children named Henry and Nancy.

If Elijah and Peggy followed traditional naming patterns, John and Elizabeth were possible names for Elijah’s parents. Through my research, I learned that 1st cousins John Cantrell and Elizabeth Cantrell were married in North Carolina about the time that Elijah was born.

But Elijah does not appear in any record associated with John and Elizabeth. Again, my research hit a dead end.

Then I got my first DNA test and learned that I shared my DNA with hundreds of other who claimed to descend from John and Elizabeth. However, when I looked back one more generation, to John and Elizabeth’s parents, my results were not so clear cut. Elizabeth (1761-1832) was the daughter of Rev. Isaac Cantrell (1729-1805) while John (1751-1825) was the son of Isaac’s brother John Cantrell (1724-1803). My DNA suggested that I was more closely related to Isaac than his brother John.

Finally, I got my Y-DNA tested and, as I talked about in that earlier post, learned that I am biologically a Hopper. Armed with this new insight, I revisited my earlier research and the results that had caused confusion now make sense.

According to my DNA and Y-DNA results, I believe that Elijah’s parents are probably Elizabeth Cantrell and a man who descends from Thomas Hopper (1712-1777) and Annah Elizabeth Freeman (1721-1808). As was the practice at that time, Elijah took his mother’s surname, Cantrell.

So, today, my possible line to Richard and Dorothy goes like this –

  • Elijah Cantrell and Margaret “Peggy” Conley
  • Elizabeth Cantrell (1761-1832)
  • Isaac Cantrell (1729-1805) and Talitha (possible last name Cloud) (1731-1772)
  • Joseph Cantrell (1695-1755) and Catharina (last name unknown) (1699-1755)
  • Richard Cantrell (abt. 1660-1753) and Dorothy Jones (1672-1755)

I am still looking for paper records to support my DNA results. I am searching bastardy bond records in North Carolina but haven’t yet found any record associated with Elizabeth or Elijah. And if I find contradictory evidence, I will re-examine my results.

Have you found a DNA result that changed the course of your family history? I’d love to hear about.

Richard Cantrill of Philadelphia

Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Richard Cantrill was a resident of Philadelphia, Pa., prior to 1689.”

With this sentence, Susan Cantrill Christie introduced my 8th great-grandfather in her 1908 book The Cantrill-Cantrell Genealogy : a record of the descendants of Richard Cantrill, who was a resident of Philadelphia prior to 1689, and of earlier Cantrills in England and America.

While the book as a whole has been criticized for its errors, I believe anyone researching their Cantrell family history owes Susan Cantrill Christie a huge “thank you”. Much of what is known about Richard and his Cantrell descendants is built on the foundation of her work. In this age of information at our fingertips, it is hard to comprehend her accomplishments in researching and gathering the details of her ancestors lives during the late 1890s.

Could any of us done better?

While exact dates are not known, it is generally believed that Richard was born in the mid-1660s, possibly in Derbyshire, England. His approximate birthdate and place are based on records associated with the death of his young, unmarried nephew Joseph Cantrell, who was born in Derbyshire. Joseph drowned in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia on May 10th, 1689. Richard was appointed the administrator of Joseph’s estate and, therefore, must have been older than 21 at that time.

As I talked about in my last post, Richard was a brickmaker and mason (a skilled trade that flourished in Derbyshire in the mid-1600s) and is known for making the bricks used during the construction of several buildings in Philadelphia, including Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church pictured above.

The year of his arrival in Philadelphia is a matter of debate. Some believe he was a descendant of early Jamestown settlers and was already residing in the area when William Penn received his grant from King Charles II in 1681. Still others believe that he arrived with the first colonist on the Penn’s ship Welcome in 1682.

However, I believe the best evidence for Richard’s arrival date is found in a land survey requested by Philip Howell in 1702. In the survey records, it is stated that Richard came to Philadelphia as the servant of William Smith, Captain of the Bristol Merchant, which arrived in February 1683.

Richard married Dorothy Jones, daughter of Ellis and Jane (Evans) Jones, in about 1693. Dorothy was 10 years old when she arrived in 1682 with her family on the Submission, a ship carrying Quaker immigrants from Wales and one of the first 22 ships to arrive in William Penn’s colony. I’ll talk more about my 9th great-grandparents Ellis and Jane Jones in a later post.

Richard and Dorothy are known to have had at least 4 children – Mary, Joseph, Zebulon, and Dorothy. Mary was only a few days old when she died in 1695. She is buried at the Friends Meeting House at the present-day corner of Arch Street and 4th Street in the Old City section of Philadelphia. While little is known about their child Dorothy, the history and descendants of Joseph and Zebulon are outlined in Christie’s book. More about them in later posts, too.

While Richard is known for brickmaking, Dorothy is known for her independent spirit. Not only did she marry outside of her faith (Richard was probably a member of the Church of England), but she also apparently enjoyed a lifestyle that caused her Quaker neighbors some discomfort. Dorothy was named in a warrant that was issued following a masquerade ball where she was witnessed wearing men’s clothing.

The horror.

So, my earliest Cantrell ancestors, a woman from Wales and a man from England, lived out their lives in the early years of city of Philadelphia. Dorothy probably died around 1730, while Richard’s death date is frequently given as May 31st, 1753. However, that date was taken from records related to probate filings involving his children (heirs), so he must have died before then.

As I talked about in my last post, Richard is believed to be buried in the graveyard at Gloria Dei. Dorothy’s burial place is unknown, but I do hope that she is buried near Richard.

If you are a family historian with Cantrell ancestors, I encourage you to browse through Susan Cantrill Christie’s book. While you should keep in mind that there are errors in the composition of certain family trees, the book still contains a wealth of useful information.

Brick Walls

Do you have brick walls in your family history?

I do.

A couple years ago, I finally broke through one of my first – no, wait, my actual first – brick wall. I wrote about breaking through the brick wall of my 4th great grandfather Elijah Cantrell in an earlier post.

And breaking through that brick wall led me to this brick wall in Philadelphia.

This brick wall is constructed of bricks made by my 8th great grandfather Richard Cantrell in Philadelphia in about 1698 (or so).

Those bricks are part of the Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Episcopal Church. Not only is this the oldest church in Philadelphia, but it is also the oldest brick building in Pennsylvania.

I visited Gloria Dei last weekend and spent time exploring the building and grounds. I will write more about Richard and his wife Dorothy Jones Cantrell in a later post, but it is believed that Richard is buried here on the church grounds. According to volunteers who were working around the church that day, there are about 5000 graves on the church grounds. That said, less than 1000 of those graves, or about 20 percent, have been identified.

The first cornerstone of the church was laid in 1698 and the building was dedicated in July 1700. Services are held every Sunday for the oldest congregation in continuous existence in the United States.

There are several Old Swedes’ churches still in use in the area that was once part of New Sweden – Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. My roots stretch back to that early colony, which was in existence from about 1638 to 1655, and I have connections to at least one other Old Swedes church in Delaware.

It was a treat to physically touch bricks that were touched by 8th great-grandfather over 320 years ago. As a family historian, moments like these allow me to truly appreciate my connection to my ancestors.

Yeah, I am a genealogical geek.


Rosa Isabelle Vance (1879-1918)

In an earlier post, I talked about my great grandfather Harmon Perry Trent and my efforts to identify his father. Sitting with Harmon in this photo is his wife and my great grandmother Rosa Isabelle Vance.

When I started researching my family history, the stories I heard about Rosa involved her death and the impact it had on my paternal grandmother and her siblings. Rosie, as she was known to her family, had died in childbirth when my grandmother was about 12 years old.

Rosie was born in May 1879 in the Triadelphia District of Logan County, West Virginia, the youngest daughter of John Patterson and Lucinda Burgess Vance. Her mother passed away when Rosie was only 4 years old. I have not been able to uncover much else about her childhood. In the 1900 US Census, she was still in the Triadelphia District but living with her sister Marcella Frances’s family. I believe that she may have been pregnant with her first child, Leota Pearl Johnston, at the time of the census.

Rosa and Harmon were married in November 1901. In 1910, still living in the Triadelphia District, she was 30 years old and the mother of 5 children. The photo shown above was probably taken about 1911, as Rosie is holding her only son, Jimmy, on her lap.

A few years after the photo was taken, Rosie passed away shortly after giving birth to her 8th child, Rosa Ray Johnston. Rosie had contracted measles shortly before Rosa Ray’s birth and complications from that disease cost both of them their lives.

Search for my Ancestors

I began searching for Rosie’s final resting place shortly after my own father had passed away in 2010. I had heard that she was buried near Bruno, West Virginia, but had few other clues. It took me a couple of years to find her, in the most unusual of places.

By 2012, I had heard the Rosie might be buried in a graveyard that was part of golf course. Driving along Guyandotte River toward Bruno, I found the entrance to Triadelphia Country Club, though I couldn’t see a graveyard anywhere. The wonderful folks working in the club house pointed out a large stand of trees where the graveyard was located and loaned me a golf cart.

After a couple hours of searching, I stumbled upon Rosa Ray’s grave. The marker for her grave had fallen over and was difficult to locate. I knew that Rosie was buried nearby, and finally located her memorial in the middle of a yucca plant. Finally, I found Harmon’s stone, broken in two large pieces with one leaning against the other.

Near Rosie’s grave I found the grave for James Joshua Grimmett, Harmon’s stepfather and husband of Grandma Grimmett. I did not know it at the time, but Grandma Grimmett (Lorentha Trent Grimmett) is buried next to James in an unmarked grave.

I went back a few years ago to once again visit my great grandparent’s graves, only to find a large fence around the area that left me unable to get to the graveyard. Sometime later, I learned that the golf course had been sold to a developer who planned to build a dirt bike track. I haven’t been able to learn anything else since then and have no idea what became of the graveyard.

I wish I could learn more about Rosie. One thing I do know, my grandmother Ruth Johnston Cantrell loved and missed her mother for the rest of her life. She must have been an amazing person.

My Vance Family & the Civil War

1862 Virginia Military Map

A couple days ago I talked about a newspaper interview given by George Custer Vance, youngest child of my 2nd great-grandfather John Patterson Vance and his second wife Melissa Lusk. In the article, George talked about the divisions within his father’s family during the Civil War. He said that his father and brother Elias fought for the Union, while brothers Joe, Charles, and Harold Vance fought for the Confederacy.

I researched the Civil War history of my grandfather’s family and found, perhaps not surprisingly, that the record doesn’t align with the newspaper story in several ways. While looking into the article, I expanded my research to include the whole family, not just the brothers named by George in his interview. After all, the Civil War touched the lives of everyone who lived during that time and the members of the Abner Vance Family of Logan County were no exceptions.

Looking back before the War, my 3rd great-grandparents Abner and Jane (Perry) Vance were married in 1817 Kanawha County, Virginia. Together, they had at least 10 children and in 1860 were shown in the US Census living in the area covered by the “Mouth of the Buffalo” post office in Logan County.

Based on the 1850 and 1860 US Census and other records, I believe that Abner and Jane Vance’s family included the following children and their spouses at the beginning of the Civil War.

  • Isabella (1825-1900) married to Isaac Brown (1824-1863)
  • Charles (1828-1864) married to Rebecca Christian (1827-after 1880)
  • Jane (1830-1870) married to Calvin Burgess (1825-1900)
  • Eli (1832-1863) married to Nancy Brown (1832-1913)
  • Joseph (1834- ) married to Sarah Burgess (1839-1883)
  • Margaret (1837-1905) married to Evan “Esau” Brown (1834-1895)
  • John Patterson (1839-1920) married to Lucinda Burgess (1839-1883)
  • Franklin (1841- )
  • Sarah (1846-1909) married to James Burgess (1843-1875)
  • James (1849- ) does not appear in the record after the 1850 Census.

Isaac, Nancy, and Evan were the children of James and Mary (Vance) Brown, 1st cousins to Abner and Jane’s children. Calvin, Sarah, Lucinda, and James were the children of Tandy and Elizabeth (Browning) Burgess (also my 3rd great-grandparents). Rebecca Christian was the daughter of James Pine and Mary (Moore) Christian.

Looking back at George’s article, he claimed that Eli Vance had fought for the Union. I have not been able to find any record of Eli’s service to the Union. I found one record suggesting that he may have enrolled in the 1st Regiment of the Virginia State Line in 1862, a Confederate unit, and deserted after only 12 days.

What I did find was that Eli and his brother-in-law Isaac Brown were murdered on the same day (but in different places), May 7th, 1863, by Andrew Gunnoe and his gang of “home guards”, presumable because of their support for the Union cause.

Charles Vance also enrolled in the 1st Virginia State Line in 1862 and later transferred to Company E, 45th Battalion, Virginia Infantry, where he was promoted to 1st Sergeant. Charles died in combat during the Battle of Piedmont, Virginia on June 5th, 1864.

Joseph Vance’s Civil War experience was very different from that of his brothers. He was a Corporal in the 129th (Logan County) Virginia Milita when he was captured by the 44th Ohio Infantry in May 1862 and charged with “bush whacking”. According to his record, he was captured while “shooting at a defenseless woman with intent to kill” her.

Joseph was held as a prisoner of war at Camp Chase, Ohio, where he apparently reported that he was part of the 36th Virginia Infantry. He was exchanged at Vicksburg, Mississippi on August 25th, 1862. Following his parole, Joseph may have also served in the 45th Battalion, though the record is unclear.

I haven’t found any record for Evan “Esau” Brown suggesting that he served in the military for either side during the war. Based on his age and the fact that he was married, it is possible that Evan avoided conscription and never voluntarily joined the army. That said, Civil War records are famously incomplete, and the military service of many men was not documented.

James Burgess volunteered for duty in Company K, 4th West Virginia Cavalry along with his brother-in-law John Patterson Vance. As with my grandfather, he was discharged on March 10th, 1864. His brother Calvin Burgess was part of the 129th Virginia Militia. While I haven’t found out the details of his service, he survived the war.

Finally, there is Franklin Vance. Franklin was not mentioned in George’s interview. George did mention a brother “Harold”, whom I have not been able to identify in any records for the Abner Vance family.

There is no military record for a “Franklin Vance”, but there is one for “Francis Vance”, who enlisted in Logan County in the 34th Battalion Virginia Cavalry (Witcher’s Battalion) in 1862. Francis was shown as a deserter on January 9th, 1863, and I have found no other record for him after that date.

I do not know if Franklin and Francis are the same person. And while Franklin appears in the 1860 US Census, it is possible that he died prior to the beginning of the war or, like so many others, the record of his service has been lost.

George’s article was entertaining to read and, like so many other published sources, filled with inaccuracies. I don’t mind, though, because he spurred me on to do my own research.

As with much of my family history, the lives of my ancestors were much more complicated and compelling than any newspaper article.

The Newspaper Article

John Patterson Vance (1839-1920)

A couple days ago I wrote about a newspaper article that was based on an interview with George Custer Vance, youngest child of my 2nd great-grandfather John Patterson Vance and his second wife Melissa Jane Lusk. From the wording of the article, it was published after John’s death and, though it is difficult to make out, included this photo of him in his Union Cavalry uniform.

As part of his interview, George talked about the division within the Vance family and how John and his brothers took different sides during the Civil War. He stated that John and his brother Elias were for the Union, while brothers Joe, Charles, and Harold fought for the Confederacy. Only John and Joe survived.

George claimed that his father fought at Battle of Bull Run and Gettysburg, and that he “remained in the army until the end of the war.” With all respect to my great-granduncle, I believe he may have confused the service records of his dad and a few of his uncles.

John Patterson Vance was a Bugler in Company K, 4th West Virginia Cavalry, a so-called “six-month regiment” formed in Wheeling, West Virginia in July and August 1863. According to his service record, John enlisted on June 15th, 1863, in Brownstown, Cabell County and mustered into his unit on August 29th in Parkersburg.

During John’s enlistment, the 4th West Virginia Cavalry’s primary mission was to guard the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad and operate against Confederate guerrillas. He may have seen action during the Skirmish at Salt Lick Bridge in Braxton County, West Virginia when elements of the 4th West Virginia Cavalry engaged with Colonel W.L. “Mudwall” Jackson’s confederate soldiers during their retreat from Battle of Bulltown.

John mustered out in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 10th, 1864, after fulfilling the requirements of his enlistment. The remainder of the 4th West Virginia Cavalry mustered out later that year on June 23rd. I have found no other record to indicate that John re-enlisted or served in any other unit.

Here is John’s Civil War pension index card, filed on September 16th, 1890. If approved, John would have received a few dollars a month for his service in the Union army.

Prior to the war, John married Lucinda Burgess, daughter of Tandy and Elizabeth (Browning) Burgess. Together, John and Lucinda had at least 7 children, including my great-grandmother Rosa Isabelle Vance. I will write more about Rosie in a later post.

Lucinda died about 1883, shortly after the birth of their youngest son, John Clyde Vance. John remarried on Christmas Day in 1884 to Melissa Jane Lusk Tolier, widow of John Tolier, and together they had two sons, including George Custer Vance. Here is a photo of John and Melissa taken, presumable, in Elk Creek, Logan County.

So, it would seem that George may have embellished his father’s service record just a bit. John’s unit was not present at either Bull Run or Gettysburg, and he mustered out over a year before the end of the war.

What about John’s brothers? I will begin to explore their Civil War experiences next time.

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