I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I have three unresolved mysteries among my Top 10 Genealogy Mysteries. #9 is proving the family of Isaac Sturgell, born about 1823, probably in Grayson County, Virginia. He married four times: (1) Mary Bandy on 27 June 1844, Lawrence County, Ohio (2) Susannah Douthit Alberty, widow of John Alberty, on 30 Sept 1867, Newton County, Missouri (3) Nancy R. Fields, 27 Apr 1876, Boone County, Arkansas and (4) Nancy Hensley Treadwell Cooper on 1 Aug 1877, Pope County, Arkansas.
First wife, Mary Bandy, left him in the 1860’s and moved to Peoria, IL, near her siblings and their families. No divorce papers have been found. Susannah Douthit Alberty divorced Isaac in Barry County, Missouri in 1875. Nancy R. Fields either died soon or also left Isaac. There is a Nancy Fields, widow, born 1828, TN, living in Boone County, Arkansas in 1880, but it is not known whether this is the same Nancy. Nancy Cooper also left Isaac soon, as she is found in the 1880 census of Pope County, Arkansas as Nancy Tredwell.
A grandchild of Isaac, living in the 1980’s, said she remembered Isaac as a mean old man and had no photos of him. He died at the County Farm in Barry County, Missouri on 26 Feb 1909 and was buried in a pauper’s grave at Oak Hill Cemetery.
Although he married four times, Mary Bandy was the mother of all of his children. When their marriage ended, Mary took the daughters – Amanda, Margaret and Mary – with her to Peoria, Illinois. The sons remained with their father – Andrew Jackson, Abijah Houston and George W. Firstborn daughter, M.J. , (possibly Mary Jane) died before 1860. No further clues as to Isaac’s origins have been found in the research done on his children.
Because the earliest record found for Isaac and Mary is their marriage record in Lawrence County, Ohio, Lawrence County is an appropriate starting place to trace the Sturgell family. Isaac was recorded as “Sturgion,” and many records for the Sturgill/Sturgell family have the family recorded in this manner.
The 1840 census of Lawrence County, Ohio includes only one man whose name is anything like Sturgell or Sturgion – William Sturgeon. This William was born between 1780-1790. An adult female in the household is in the 40-50 age range, thus born 1790-1800. Children include three males, 20-29, so born 1811-1820, one female, 15-19, so born 1821-1825, one male, 15-19, so born 1821-1825 and two males 10-14, so born 1826-1830
As Isaac was born about 1823, he fits the profile of the male 15-19 years old in 1840.
Ohio land records show a William Sturgion first receiving land in Lawrence County in 1837.
Isaac reported that he was born in Virginia and, in the 1830 census of Grayson County, Virginia, there is a William Sturgen found there.
This William reported that he was 40-49 years old. The eldest female was in the same age range. Others in the household included two females, 20-29 years old, so born 1801-1810, two males 10-14 years old, so born 1816-1820, one male 5-9 and one female 5-9, so born 1821-1825 and three males under 5, so born 1825-1830.
Except for the oldest female’s age being off, which could be the result of a misreported age or a second marriage), the 1830 William Sturgen could easily be the same man as the 1840 William Sturgion. With the gaps in the births in the children of the 1830 household (aged 10-14 and then 20-29), it is certainly possibly that there was a second marriage.
Jumping back to the 1820 census, we find a William Stogell in Ashe County, North Carolina. He is 26-45 years old, so born 1775-1794. The eldest female is also 26-45 years old. Children include two females 10-16 years old, so born 1804-1810, plus two males and two females, all under the age of ten, so born 1810-1820.
Also found in Ashe County, North Carolina are Rebekah Stogell, reputedly the widow of Francis Sturgill who died about 1807, Joel Stogell, also 26-45 years old and Francis Stogell, who is 45+.
Here is where things get muddied up: David and Mack Sturgill published several volumes about the Sturgill families with its varied spellings:
The Sturgill Family in America: A Preliminary History, published in July 1960.
A Brief History of the Sturgill Family in America from 1650 to 1960, published in 1971.
A History of the Sturgill Family, published about 1983 and described as an update to the 1960 publication.
A Branch of the Sturgill Family: Descendants of Francis Sturgill Sr. and Rebecca Hash, published in 1993, two volumes.
David and Mack Sturgill have both since passed away, David in 2004 and Mack in 1998. I had corresponded with both of these men about the Sturgill family.
While it is wonderful that David began collecting family history stories and information from elderly relatives as far back as the 1940’s (placing the births of the original interviewees as early as 1850-1860), it is a shame that, with the exception of a few land records, censuses and tax lists (which almost exclusively mention the male heads of households), ALL of their information is from “family traditions” and “oral history.” Compounding the problem is that several of the places where the Sturgills lived, including the central location of Ashe County, North Carolina, have few written records on the Sturgills who passed through.
After David died, I even contacted his son and asked about sources in his father’s notes. He replied that his dad had a great memory and never kept notes so he had nothing available to review or check for me.
Tomorrow I will delve into the William Sturgill/Sturgeon abyss.