Black Sheep Isaac Sturgell and His Family – Continued

After I discovered that Mary Sturgell was now Mary Cookman living in Peoria, IL, I started checking IL records. It appears that when Isaac and Mary either separated or divorced (no divorce records have been found, but the Civil War was going on around them), the boys apparently stayed with Isaac in MO, while the girls, Margaret and Mary, born in 1861 in AR, went with their mother. Baby girl M.J., born about 1848, likely died young. Amanda, born 1850, is with the family in 1860, but not found after that time. Depending on when Isaac and Mary separated, Amanda could have been 15 or 16 years old and married by 1866. Isaac didn’t marry Susannah Douthit Alberty until 1867. However, I have never found a trace of Amanda after 1860 in AR, MO or IL.

Why did Mary go to Peoria, IL? She had family there and likely went back to them possibly first to OH or else directly to IL.

Mary married (2) probably William J. Wade, 12 Jan 1869, Tazewell Co., IL (3) Benjamin Cookman, on 28 July 1877 in Peoria Co., IL. Ben died of lupus in the Alms House in 1885. (4) George Jacob Fouts, 7 Mar 1889, Peoria Co., IL.

A William J. Wade married a Mary Sturgeon in 1869; the timing and place are right, as Tazewell County is right next to Peoria County and Mary stated on her marriage certificate to George Fouts that it was her 4th marriage. She and the girls haven’t been found in 1870, nor has William J. Wade. However, a William J. Wade married again in Tazewell County on 8 OCt 1877 to Elizabeth Jones. Perhaps Mary divorced a second time.  George Fouts died 26 Nov 1894 in Fulton Co., IL. His obituary makes no mention of a widow and no further record has been found for Mary Bandy Sturgell Cookman Fouts.

Isaac had quite the life after Mary left him. His sons Andrew Jackson (AJ) and George apparently wandered the Ozarks with him. In fact, my husband’s great grandfather, Abijah, is the only one who stayed put in Barry County and married only one time.

I mentioned that Susannah Douthit Alberty was Isaac’s second wife. The divorce packet contained the details of their acrimonious divorce and I have to say I clearly stand with Susannah. Isaac states that Susannah left him on 17 Feb 1873; the divorce was settled in October 1874. If the copies were a bit darker, I would post some of the pages of allegations. The only allegation that Isaac makes against Susannah is that she left him. She, in turn, gave testimony and had supporting witnesses that declared Isaac squandered the little money she received from her first husband John Alberty’s estate so that Susannah had nothing left. He refused to provide clothing for her or any of the family (including her minor children) and left only cornbread for them to eat. Isaac, according to the testimony, openly declared that he would not work to make a living. Further, he not only became surly and obstinate, he brought home and kept a lewd woman in the house with her and the children!

As a result of this testimony, the judge found in favor of the defendant – Susannah – and awarded her $75 in alimony. Isaac didn’t have the cash to pay her so there is a note written by someone else for Susannah to the clerk of Barry County Court stating that she received the gray mare from Isaac in lieu of the $75. Susannah was granted the right to marry again, which she didn’t do.

Nothing was said in the court papers about Isaac having the right to remarry, but that he did. He, A.J. and George traveled through the Ozarks. Isaac may have actually walked or hitched a ride because I found him on several Arkansas personal property tax lists and he was never taxed for more than a few pigs, never for a horse. Isaac married (3) Nancy R. Fields, 27 Apr 1876, Boone Co., AR. There is a Nancy Fields living alone in Boone Co., born about 1831 in TN who is probably this woman. One year later, on 1 Aug 1877, he married (4) Nancy P.  (maybe Hensley) Treadwell Cooper in Pope Co., AR. That marriage apparently didn’t last long either as Nancy Treadwell is living with a married daughter and son-in-law in Pope County in 1880.

Andrew Jackson Sturgell was busy getting married himself. He married (1) Mary Fowler, 23 Feb 1871, Barry Co., MO (2) Delanie E.R. Ketchum, 1 Jan 1874, also in Barry County (3) Sarah J. Davis, 24 Feb 1875 and (4) Mary Catherine Turney, 2 July 1876, Pope County, AR. Mary was widowed and living in her father’s home in 1880 so A.J. likely died before that time. He hasn’t been found in any record after his 1876 marriage, but with the divorces and remarriages in this family, I guess it is possible that they split up.

George W. Sturgell married (1) Caroline Holmes, 31 Oct 1878, Van Buren Co., AR and (2) Hannah Tinney, 5 Jan 1886, Pope Co., AR. Neither George nor Hannah have been found after their 1886 marriage.

While the Sturgells were busy living and marrying in AR, Isaac Sturgell was still the owner of Homestead Act land in Barry County that he acquired after the Civil War. On 30 Nov 1876, Andrew J. and George W. Sturgell gave oath on the final homestead proof that Isaac Sturgell had, from 7 Jan 1870 to the present day of 30 Nov. 1876, lived continuously and made his exclusive home the farm on the land granted by the Homestead Act. (Remember he married Nancy Fields in Benton Co., AR in April 1876.)

So what became of Isaac Sturgell? A very elderly grandchild remembered back in the 1980’s that he was a mean old man. She remembered the children hiding under a bed to get away from him, but he would poke them with a broom handle to get them out.

Isaac hasn’t been found in 1900, but the local Cassville newspapers had several items published about him:

6 Mar 1902 – The Financial Statement of the Barry County Paupers Fund showed J.A. Barnes receiving money for the care of Isaac Sturgill.

12 Nov 1903 – T.W. Brewer received $12 for poor house support of I. Sturgill

12 May 1904 – county warrant for $10 for Isaac Sturgill, poor

4 Aug 1906 – news clipping that Isaac Sturgill, a very old man at the county farm, was very ill.

26 Feb 1909 – Monett Times – Died. Rev. Isaac Sturgill, age 80-85 at County Farm. Buried Oak Hill Cemetery. All children dead, but has grandchildren.

The Sturgell family still in Barry County have an old newspaper obituary in the family Bible, undated that says: “Isaac Sturgle died at the county farm Monday night, aged about 80 years. For a number of years, Mr. Sturgle had been a consumptive and this dreadful disease together with old age made death a welcome visitor to the lonely sufferer.  He was a faithful member of the Baptist church and one of the county’s most worthy charges. He was interred at the Oak Hill cemetery Tuesday afternoon.”

I have been to Oak Hill Cemetery and walked every row, but Isaac is apparently in an unmarked grave, which is consistent with living at the county poor farm. His sons were all dead, as noted in the Monett Times notice; his daughters likely hadn’t seen him for almost 40 years and had their own lives in Illinois.

It turns out there was quite a story to be found after the Civil War.

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