My decision to write about weddings presented a challenge since there were so many choices and ways to go. Should I choose the couple with the longest marriage? The shortest marriage? The marriage of an immediate relative? Instead, I opted to go with a family that was a brick wall for so long, but has, in my mind, a rather high number of marriages for one set of parents and children. Mind you, this is not a family with a religious reason for multiple marriages. Rather, they seem to be a somewhat dysfunctional family that liked getting married.
I’ve written about Isaac and Mary Bandy Sturgell in previous posts, but the focus was on finding them and documenting their lives. I am hoping that perhaps by shining the spotlight on their spouses and those of their children, someone out there might help fill in some information about spouses of whom I know little.
Isaac and Mary were the parents of seven known children, two of whom – M.J. and Amanda – were daughters who appear to have died young and unmarried. Of the remaining five, two – son Abijah and daughter Mary – each married one time and stayed put in one place, raising their families.
Abijah Houston Sturgell, husband Dave’s great grandfather, married Martha Susannah Alberty and lived all of his adult life in Barry County, Missouri. Descendants still live in the area.
Youngest daughter, Mary Sturgell, married George Kingsley on 15 July 1880 in Peoria County, Illinois. Although it appears Mary had a son, George, before marrying husband George, they raised their blended family and spent the rest of their lives in Peoria County, Illinois.
It is the remaining three children – Andrew Jackson, George W. and Margaret E. – who seemed to have lives that were a bit more fractured and resembled the lives of both their parents.
Among Isaac, Mary and children Andrew, George and Margaret, I have found 17 – yes, SEVENTEEN – marriages! Remember, for years, this family was a brick wall. . .so much for brick walls.
What became of all these spouses? I don’t honestly know. First, let’s look at Isaac Sturgell.
Isaac Sturgell married Mary Bandy on 27 June 1844 in Lawrence County, Ohio. This marriage was the longest, by far, of any of these family members. However, whether it was a happy marriage that turned unhappy or whether it was unhappy from the beginning will likely never be known. By later accounts, Isaac Sturgell was not an easy man with whom to get along. I originally assumed that Mary died between 1860-1867, possibly in childbirth. Vital records, aside from marriages, were not kept in Missouri (where the family lived) at this time. In addition, the Civil War was happening all around them.
Isaac Sturgell married (2) Susannah Douthit Alberty, widow of John Alberty, on 30 September 1867 in nearby Newton County, Missouri. Susannah, or Susan as she was often called, was the mother of Martha Susannah Alberty, wife of Isaac’s son, Abijah (Dave’s great grandparents.) While researching in the Barry County Courthouse, I discovered two very important tidbits of information. First, there were divorce papers filed there for Isaac and Susan. Susan accused Isaac of squandering the small inheritance she received from first husband, John Alberty, and also accused Isaac of keeping lewd women in their home and refusing to provide food for her or the children. (They had no children together, but each had children by their first spouses.) By 16 October 1874, Susan had left Isaac and filed papers for divorce.
On the same day, while perusing the land deed index books for the 1880’s, I came across a quitclaim for one Mary Sturgell. Isaac and Mary’s youngest daughter was named Mary and I thought this land record might pertain to her. Sturgell was a surname unique in Barry County so any Sturgell record I might find would likely belong to my husband’s family. Imagine my surprise when the actual deed named Mary Sturgell, also known as Mary Cookman, of Peoria County, Illinois!
First wife Mary Bandy Sturgell did NOT die between 1860-1870. She, too, left Isaac!!! No divorce record has been found so I don’t know if they actually divorced (remember, this was the Civil War era and records might have been lost) or if they just went their separate ways.
Isaac was divorced by 16 October 1874, but he must have liked being married as he married (3) Nancy R. Fields on 27 April 1876 in Boone County, Arkansas. No witnesses are named on the marriage record, but it does say Isaac was 55 and of Barry County, Missouri and Nancy was 45, of Boone County, Arkansas. It is hard to tell if Nancy was previously married. It looks like her title was given as “Mis.” The second letter looks like a dotted “r.” She may be the Nancy Fields found in Harrison, Boone County, Arkansas in the 1870 census, aged 39, born in Tennessee and living alone. What happened to Nancy Fields? Did she die soon or did she also leave Isaac? I don’t know.
Isaac married (4) Nancy P. Hensley Cooper on 1 August 1877 in Pope County, Arkansas. Both were listed as residents of Pope County. Nancy was the widow of both John Treadwell and William Cooper. She was born about 1826 in Tennessee and died after 1880, likely in Pope County, Arkansas. This marriage was also short lived, as “widow” Nancy Tredwell is living with her married daughter and son-in-law in 1880 in Pope County, Arkansas. Did they actually divorce go just go their separate ways? I don’t know.
Isaac eventually died in the Barry County poorhouse, alone, on 26 February 1909. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in an unmarked grave.
In the meantime, Mary Bandy Sturgell had made a new life for herself and her daughters in Illinois. At the time of her marriage to George Fouts, Mary stated that that was her fourth marriage. It appears that her second marriage (recorded as Mary Sturgeon) was to William J. Wade on 12 January 1869 in Tazewell County, Illinois, next door to Peoria, where she lived the rest of her life. (Mary’s marriage to Isaac back in 1844 gave his name as Isaac Sturgeon.) This marriage also appears to be very short lived, as neither Mary nor her daughters are to be found in the 1870 census, but William Wade is enumerated with his sons in Tazewell County.
Mary next married (3) Benjamin Cookman on 28 July 1877 in Peoria County, Illinois. Ben was born about 1833 in England and died on 16 July 1885 in the Peoria County Alms House of lupus.
Mary married (4) widower George Jacob Fouts on 7 March 1889 in Peoria County, Illinois. He was born in May 1828 in Ohio and died 26 November 1894 in Fulton County, Illinois. His obituary does not mention any spouse and no further record has been found for Mary after this marriage record.
I mentioned that Mary took her daughters with her when she left Isaac and her sons in Barry County, Missouri. Neither Isaac nor Mary had any known children with any of their other spouses.
Daughter Margaret also married several times. She married (1) George Alder on 10 June 1873 in Peoria County, Illinois. He was born on 12 November 1846, England, and died on 21 October 1900, Kingston Mines, Peoria, Illinois. They were the parents of nine children, most of whom survived to adulthood. Margaret married (2) David Nickerson on 24 January 1909 in Peoria County, Illinois. Although the marriage record says he was born in 1826, a son of Isaac Nickerson and Alcy J. Matney, I have not found any about him after his marriage date. Another massive question mark! Margaret married (3) Jacob Riddle. No further information has been found about this marriage. Margaret died 6 January 1929 in Peoria, Illinois, name given as Margaret Alder Riddle.
Isaac’s and Mary’s other two sons, Andrew Jackson and George W., wandered the Ozarks with their father after Mary and the girls left for Illinois.
Andrew Jackson (aka “Jack”) married (1) Mary Fowler on 23 February 1871 in Barry County, Missouri. Mary was born about 1854 in Iowa and nothing further is known about her, but this marriage was short. Jack married (2) Delania Ketchum on 1 January 1874, also in Barry County. She was born about 1858, but nothing further is known about her either, but this was yet another very short marriage. Jack married (3) Sarah J. Davis on 24 February 1875 in Benton County, Arkansas. Sarah was born about 1860 in Missouri, but nothing further is known, except that the marriage was short. Jack married (4) Mary Catherine Turney on 2 July 1876 in Boone County, Arkansas. Mary Catherine was born about 1851 in Arkansas and died 1920-1930, probably in Madison County, Arkansas. Jack Sturgell died before the June 1880 census so Mary Catherine was his surviving widow. It appears there were no surviving children.
The last child is George W. Sturgell who married (1) Caroline Holmes on 31 October 1878 in Van Buren County, Arkansas. She was born about 1859 in Arkansas. George and Caroline had a daughter Narcissa, born about 1879 and who appears in the 1880 census, but is not found after that time. George W. married (2) Hannah Tinney on 5 January 1886 in Pope County, Arkansas. Hannah was born about 1865, but, as usual, nothing further is known about her except that she may be the daughter of Edmond and Sarah Tinney. George W. Sturgell has not been found in any records after this 1886 marriage.
Seventeen marriages and so much, but so little is known about many of these spouses. If you are related to any of these people, please leave a comment!