Who Was Catherine Head, Wife of Lewis Peavler of Sullivan County, MO?

It’s been a long time – years – since I looked at the Head family of Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri. This family is another bit of headache, like many of my husband’s other lines, because they, too, chose to live on the frontier where few records survive.

However, Catherine Head, born c1810, probably in the part of Washington County that was set off to form Scott County, Virginia, lived a good, long life, passing away sometime after 15 May 1886, when Samuel Baker, administrator of her husband’s estate, noted a payment to her recorded in the court minutes.

Her husband was Lewis Peavler, born c1800, perhaps in today’s Tennessee, but maybe more likely on the Virginia frontier in what is now Washington County, Tennessee. The Peavlers are an entirely different tangled mess!

Lewis and Catherine married about 1828, probably in Scott County, Virginia. although they moved several times as they raised a family of nine children – from Virginia to Knox County, Kentucky and on into Missouri.

There has been quite a bit written about the Head family and, for many years, it was thought that Catherine was the daughter of George Head and Eleanor Curry. About 15 years ago, a distant cousin of my husband’s did a thorough, serious analysis of the families of George and James Head, who are thought to be brothers. Census data and use of the same given names to their children of similar ages helped her to sort out the children of each men and she came to the conclusion that Catherine was the daughter of James and Mary (MNU) Head, not of George and Eleanor. This analysis was found on a RootsWeb list discussion (which is no longer accessible), along with data on many other Head relatives.

I can’t claim any of the research credit for myself, although I did located the probate file proving that Catherine was alive as late as 15 May 1886, well after the “alive after 1880 census” date that is commonly attributed as her death date.

I have previously written about the family of Lewis Peavler and Catherine Head, but I have not shared her suspected parents and siblings.

Here is the family of James Head and wife, Mary, whose maiden name is not known. In 1850, they were living alone in Scott County, Virginia. Both reported births in Virginia, with James born about 1777 and Mary in 1780. It was noted that Mary could not read or write.

Neither has been found in the 1860 census and they likely had died by then.

James Head and family appears in the 1810 enumeration of Washington County, Virginia. After that, from 1820-1850, he is found in Scott County. It doesn’t appear that he ever moved, though, as Scott County was partially formed from the tip of Washington County in 1814.

Birth and death records don’t exist for their children so this family grouping is based on the analysis that I previously mentioned and preponderance of evidence.


    1. Mary, born c1799, probably Washington County, Virginia; died after 1880, probably Scott County, Virginia; married John Hensley, soon after marriage bond dated 12 December 1817, Scott County, Virginia. He was born c1798, Virginia; died between the 1850-1860 censuses, probably in Scott County, Virginia.
    2. Ira, born c1801, probably Washington County, Virginia; died before 7 July 1859, when administration of his estate began in Sullivan County, Missouri; married (1) Mary Campbell, c1828. She was born c1806, Virginia; died about 1853, probably in Sullivan County, Missouri (2) Mary Martin, 4 November 1853, Sullivan County, Missouri. Mary was born c1825, Virginia and reportedly died in 1900.
    3. Anna, born 5 September 1805, probably Washington County, Virginia; died 21 September 1889, Linn County, Missouri; married Christopher Peavler, c1830. He was born between 1807 and 1812, either in Virginia, North Carolina or Tennessee according to the census records, although his gravestone says 12 August 1812; died 8 April 1889, Linn County, Missouri.
    4. Elizabeth, born c1806, probably Washington County, Virginia; died c1828, probably Scott County, Virginia; married William Dixon, 15 March 1824, Scott County, Virginia. He married (2) Hannah Little, 19 June 1828, Scott County, Virginia.
    5. Catherine, born c1810, probably Washington County, Virginia; died after 15 May 1886, probably Sullivan County, Missouri; married Lewis Peavler, c1828, probably Scott County, Virginia. He was born c1805, Virginia; died about 1882, when administration began on his estate.
    6. George, born January 1813, probably Scott County, Virginia; died after 1900, probably Linn County, Missouri, when he was living with his son’s family; married Malinda Hensley, 6 August 1835, Scott County, Virginia. She was born 12 April 1820; died 3 December 1884, Linn County, Missouri.
    7. Matilda, born 6 September 1816, probably Scott County, Virginia; died 15 October 1867, Linn County, Missouri; married John T. Bull, c1837, probably Knox County, Kentucky. He was born 16 January 1815, Kentucky; died 3 October 1868, Linn County, Kentucky.

To answer the question then of who Catherine Head was, evidence is strong that she was the child of James and Mary Head, who lived in the part of  Washington County, Virginia that became Scott County, Virginia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.