The Mobley connection…

This is most likely a picture of William Buchanan and Margaret Mobley.

A while back in my research I was investigating the parents of Jane Buchanan, because while much research was done on the Buchanan line and I could fill it out pretty well, I didn’t have much on her mother’s side in my files. Even my grandfather’s research records gave her short shrift, all I could find in his records was her first name Margaret.

Through time and much effort I have been able to flesh out Margaret’s origins. Origins of which bring a more prominent role of Quakers into the family and, as I knew would happen sooner or later, slavery.

When I started my research on Margaret I did have a good starting point because her birth name is found on her daughter Jane’s death registration. Using that information as a guide I found Margaret’s death registration, along with her husband’s on the same page, in the records. Thankfully her parent’s names were also recorded in the death record, which doesn’t happened all the time. They were listed as William and Sarah Mabley, (which should have been Mobley).

The search for William and Sarah Mobley led me to Monroe County, Ohio where a marriage registration is found for William Mobley and Sarah Millison in 1825. This record seemed the most likely and fits in with the approximated 1833 birth year for Margaret. I was pretty confident that this line runs true and so continued my research following this trail’s bread crumbs.

As I ventured further and further down the rabbit hole of the Mobley line I eventually ended up in Maryland. It was at this point that I immediately knew I wasn’t going to like what I was going to find. You see once your research takes you certain parts of the country in certain periods of time, slavery is going to rear it’s ugly head, and it did.

There are a few publications and websites dedicated to the Mobley surname to be found out in the world, so I have been able to fill in lots of blanks pretty well regarding the first few generations in America. Some sources are still suspect, which is to be expected. (An unfortunate habit of many early genealogy surname history books is their tendency to spend several chapters talking about the family crest, or how the surname is somehow of ‘upper crust’ descent. All very silly and pretentious, and these Mobley histories are no exception.)

It is believed that the earliest Mobley documented with confidence is John Mobley, jr. who was most likely born in England and emigrated in the latter part of the 1600s to America, settling in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The surname in England was generally known as Moberly or various other iterations.

John was born about 1658, possibly in Cheshire, England. When he was about 30 years old he married Ann Biggers on the 21st of Oct 1686, in Maryland. Together they had five boys. The youngest boy, Thomas, was our ancestor. He was born on 18 Jan 1698  in All Hallow’s Parish, as were all the other children.

John was a planter, and living in Maryland his main crop was tobacco. Not surprisingly his main labor force was slaves and possibly indentured servants, although we have no record of such. Besides, indenture was so 1600s, enslaving Africans was all the rage now.

In the early days of Africans being involuntarily brought to Maryland, they could actually work off their indenture and become free. Apparently this annoyed the rich white folks to no end, so in 1664 an act was passed in the Maryland Assembly that once a slave always a slave, and any child of a slave automatically became a slave when born, and could expect the same treatment. To make matters even more depressing, in 1753 they passed another assinine law, this one forbade owners from manumitting their slaves at all. So even if they wanted to free a slave they couldn’t.

Several years before Thomas died he had made out a deed of gift for his younger children.

The boxes area in the image says “One Negro boy named Ben to my beloved son Levin Mobberly”, Levin is our ancestor, who had William, who had Margaret.

Here is a transcription of the relevant parts of the document:

.”..hereby grant unto my beloved children, Dorcus Mobberly, Levin Mobberly, Mary Mobberly and William Mobberly, at the day of their marriage, or at my death. Viz. one negro girl named Dinah, and her increase to my beloved daughter Dorcus Mobberly, one negro boy named Ben to my beloved son Levin Mobberly. One negro girl named Hagar and her increase to my beloved daughter Mary Mobberly and one negro girl named Jane and her increase to my beloved son William Mobberly. If in case either of the said negroes die before received, I then give the boy Jack to make good the loss if either of these my children die before they receive the said negroes, the whole to be equally divided amongst them remaining and if all die to one, then my son John Mobberly to have half the negroes if more then one living. To have and to hold the said negroes, unto the above children their heirs and assigned to his and her and their own proper use for ever…”

I made a promise to myself that when I did run into the issue of slavery in our family, which I knew I would, there would be no glossing over the issue, and in the best way I know how  I will try to give voice to those persons whom my ancestors owned like cattle. So here I give their names: Dinah, Ben, Hagar, Jane and Jack.

Thomas’s son Levin moved his family to Ohio between 1810 and 1820 at which time they can be found living in Belmont County. One good thing I can say about Levin is that in the 1800 census there is no notation that his family owned slaves, so either he sold them to family or others, or freed them, and whether his lack of slaves in the census is due to economics or personal belief I do not know. I am just glad that at this point on, in our Moberly line, the owning of slaves has ceased.

A note of interest regarding Thomas Mobley/Mobberly, you can see that he left his mark of a pretty capital “T” as his signature on the deed of gift document. This indicates that he was not a formally educated man. He could probably read, but most likely didn’t write.

The family doesn’t appear to have invented any wondrous devices, written any novels, or left any big impact on history. They were tobacco farmers, owned slaves, were born, had children, died. When the country was opening up the next generation started to spread out heading south and west. Where we find Margaret, first in Ohio and then finally settling in West Virginia. It is here that she left her legacy to her four children: Jane, Rebecca, Ebenezer, and Sarah Buchanan.


Who gets the children…

One of my five times great grandmother’s was Mary McMullen/McMullin. She married William Buchanan sometime in the 1790s. Before she married William she can be found in court records when she was as young as 5.

In times past if the ‘head of the household’ (that being the father, of course) died, the mother didn’t necessarily become the guardian of her children. Common law dictated that the father and only the father was in control of the estate and persons included in that estate. According to the’s blog post regarding the matter of guardianship, she quoted Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Law of England “a mother…is entitled to no power, but only to reverence and respect.”

This practice is demonstrated quite clearly in the guardianship record for Mary McMullen, whose father James died in 1761 in Shrewsbury, York County, New York. She was 5 in 1762 when the September term of court heard her Uncle John, their father’s brother, requesting that guardianship of her and her brother Robert, who was a year younger, be appointed to Ebenezer Newton and David Kirkpatrick.

“Came into Court John McMullin Brother of James McMullen late of Shrewsbury Township Yeoman Deceased who Died Intestate and prayed the Court to appoint some proper persons Guardians of Mary and Robert McMullin Minor Orphan Children of the said Deceased the former aged Five years in October last, and the latter Aged Four in Feb.y last. It is Considered by the Court and David Kirkpatrick Esquire and Ebenezer Newton of Shrewsbury Township Yeoman are appointed Guardians over the Persons and Estates of the said Mary and Robert McMullan during their Minority or until they shall be of Age to chuse for themselves.”1

Actual court record pages from book.

Their mother Jean was still very much alive as she married shortly after James’ death, a gentleman by the name of Nelson. The last record found for Jean, at this time, is in the May term of court in 1761.2 She was petitioning the court regarding the bequest she received from her husband’s will. She wasn’t happy with the terms and was requesting a one third portion of property and money from the estate. The court granted her petition. At this time we do not know if she was still alive when her children’s guardianship was being decided, or if she had died by September of 1762.

But, my focus is really on the interesting bits found in the two related items located close to the case regarding their guardianship appointment (between another case or two):

“Came into Court David Kirkpatrick Esquire and Ebenezer Newton Guardians of Mary McMullan a Minor Orphan Daughter of James McMullin late of Shrewsbury Township Yeoman Deceased who Died Intestate aged five years sometime in October last, and prayed that the said Mary McMullin may be bound and Apprentice to John McMullin of Fawn Township yeoman. It is considered by the Court, and the said Mary is hereby bound an Apprentice to the said John McMullin until she shall be of the Age of Eighteen years In Consideration Whereof the said John McMullin doth covenant and agree to teach or cause to be taught the said Apprentice to Read the Bible to knit sew and Spin and to furnish and allow the said Apprentice sufficient Meat Drink Apparel Washing and Lodging during the said Term and at the Experation thereof the pay unto her Two suits of apparel one whereof shall be New, and of the value of six pounds, one New Spinning Wheel and one Cow and Calf, or four Pounds in Money, which the said Apprentice shall then chuse.”1

“Came into Court David Kirkpatrick Esquire and Ebenezer Newton Guardians of Robert McMullan a Minor Orphan Son of James McMullin late of Shrewsbury Township Yeoman Deceased Aged four years some time in February last, and prayed that the said Robert may be bound an Apprentice to patrick Poore of East Nottingham Township Chester County Weaver It is considered by the Court, and the said Robert McMullin is hereby bound an Apprentice to the said Patrick Poore until he shall be of the age of Twenty one years In Consideration whereof the said Patrick Poor doth Covenant and agree to teach or Cause to be taught the said Apprentice the Art or Mystery of a Weaver which he now practiseth to Read the Bible to Write and Arithmetick as far as the Rule of Three direct, to furnish and allow the said Apprentice sufficient Meat Drink Apparel Washing and Lodging during the said Term and at the Expiration thereof to pay unto him to suits of Apparel one whereof shall be New and of the value of six pounds, and one new Loom and Tackling of the value of three pounds. And the Court do decree that in the mean Time the said Patrick Poor give Bond, in Fifty pounds with sufficient security to the Guardians of the said Robert McMullin conditioned for the performance of the Covenants mentioned in the foregoing record on his part to be performed and kept.”1

So as would be typical of the times, Mary was to be taught to read, sew and spin, her brother was to be taught the trade of weaving, along with readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. Thanks goodness the court required their masters to feed, water, and clothe them too.

This is the first time I have run into a guardianship record in my own research. I don’t know much more about the family than this little bit, so I am anxious to delved into York County, Pennsylvania records when I make my yearly trek to SLC this summer.

1 Pennsylvania, probate records, 1683-1994 digital images from FHL; York County Orphans’ Court Dockets 1749-1781 vol. A-D, image 140 of 593; Court Term September 1, 1872 vol. A, pages 231-232.

2 Pennsylvania, probate records, 1683-1994 digital images from FHL; York County Orphans’ Court Dockets 1749-1781 vol A-D, image 111 of 593 Court Term May 26, 1761, vol. A, page 173.

Looking over the family tree…

This morning I was looking over my family tree chart to get a feel for how it was looking these days,  (and I must say, my efforts have filled it out pretty well in the last few years), when I realized that my great great grandparents Elza Shepard and Jane Buchanan were second cousins. Susan Smith, who married Hartley Shepard, was the daughter of Catharine Atkinson, William A. Buchanan was the son of Rebecca Atkinson, sister of Catharine. Susan’s son Elza married William’s daughter Jane.

That also means we descend from James Atkinson and Margaret Brown twice. Not an unusual occurrence at all, but one I just realized.

Elza Shepard and Jane Buchanan, 2nd cousins, my great great grandparents on my maternal size. They are sitting on chairs that are on an incline. Hilly country in West Virginia.

A mystery possibly solved…

I don’t know if I can say enough times how important land records are in genealogical research.

Case in point.
I have been slowly transcribing the digital images I took of land records from my last trip to SLC. I am currently working on land deeds from Monroe County, Ohio. The surnames I am interested in are SMITH, MOBLY, MILLISON, BUCHANAN, and ATKINSON.
Monroe County, Ohio map 
Joseph Smith and his wife Catherine were the parents of Susannah who married Hartley Shepard. Rebecca Atkinson married William Buchanan.
I have never known the name of Catherine’s parents, it has never been stated in any of my research. However, it is possible that I have found it out.
One of the land records I transcribed for Joseph and his wife, spelled Katherine in this particular deed, indicated a tract or parcel in Section 7 of Township 4, Range 4, I believe it was the SW 1/4. Okay. Cool. I marked the position on my hard copy. Then, a while later, I am transcribing a land record for William Buchanan and Rebecca his wife, remember she is an Atkinson by birth. The tract or parcel described is the exact same one described in Joseph and Katherine’s deed, the Buchanan’s had acquired the property through the decease of Rebecca’s father James Atkinson. Both couples were selling the land to the same person, John Adams.
The property was described as some type of inheritance in Joseph’s deed, but James’ name wasn’t mentioned.
The only reason I could see for the property description to be the same, was if Katherine was a daughter of James and had inherited her portion of the estate. And if that isn’t interesting enough, there is a Jeremiah Smith who married an Atkinson girl living in the same area, and involved in land transactions related to the same Atkinson family.
My belief is that Jeremiah and Joseph are SMITH brothers, who married ATKINSON sisters. Of course, it is possible that I am wrong and Joseph is somehow related to James Atkinson, but I have my doubts, because he would have to be a pretty close relative to be inheriting part of the estate, when there are children and a wife getting their portions also.
Well, that’s my theory so far.

More union soldiers, a wedding and a death…

I am back from my trip to Salt Lake City. Who would think that a weeks vacation could be that exhausting.

I spent many an hour looking bleary eyed at microfilm. All in an effort to find something new about our  ancestors. I am happy to say that I did find a tidbit or two.

Firstly, until just this last week I had no idea when Jennie/Jannett Smith Rosa Lavelley died. I did know it was after 1870 and before 1898 (according to her ex-husband, Abram Rosa’s, pension). But this week I found a quit claim deed filed in Berrien County, Michigan labeled ‘Jannett Rosa, by heirs’ to Michael Smith [her brother]. The incriminating bit of information in that index entry was the ‘by heirs’ part. The deed was filed in 1877. Okay, it didn’t give me the exact date of death, but now I know that Jennie died between 1870 and 1877, a much shorter date range. Who knows, maybe a bit of digging in my own backyard will turn up more on that issue, after all she lived in Oconto.

Secondly, the Buchanan family has been researched by others, but some of what they have put out there is wrong. I now know that Margaret and William Buchanan died in Jackson County, West Virginia. Margaret in 1883 and William in 1891. I found their death records online. Easy peasy. Well, after Margaret died, William must have been feeling a bit lonely because he married again in 1884 to an Emily Duke. How do I know this, land records. William and Emily are selling land together to family, etc. in Jackson County in the 1880s. It took me a while to realize that the name of his wife was Emily in the deeds as I am mostly just photographing records and looking at them later. I am glad I did though. Now I can add Emily to the records. I even confirmed the marriage by finding their certificate online.

Thirdly, After learning about Emily, I dug around on Ancestry to see if there was something I missed about William Buchanan in their online records. William is the first Shepard side ancestor I have found to have been an actual soldier in the Civil War. He joined the Union’s 17th Regiment, Company D, Infantry. He was only in the war for about a year, the same as F. W. John. He appears to have survived the war without any incidents. But, he didn’t live long enough to file a pension having died in 1891. Emily his wife died by 1900, as we know from the land records. When she died the land she inherited from William, had to pass on to his children: Jane, Ebenezer, Rebecca and Sarah.

All in all I have had affirmed in my mind the importance of land records in doing one’s research. It can lead you to finding all kinds of little gems.

This is the page from the 1890 Veteran’s Schedule showing William Buchanan.