Joseph Ketchum, Son of Mr. Ketchum and Elsie Larrison Stufflebean

Today’s post, about Joseph Ketchum, born c1794 and died after 1 December 1874, is my latest attempt to piece together the life of Elsie Larrison (c1765- after 23 June 1848) before she married Revolutionary War soldier and pensioner John Stufflebean in Paris, Bourbon County, Kentucky shortly after 12 August 1795, the date of their marriage bond.

First, a bit of background info is needed about the Stufflebeans, Larrisons and Ketchums:

John Stufflebean and Elsie Larrison had both lost their earlier spouses not long after marriage. John married (2) Priscilla Ross on 14 July 1790, also in Bourbon County, Kentucky. According to his war pension, he was married and had children at the time he enlisted to fight in the war back in New York. Neither his first wife nor any children by that marriage have been identified. Priscilla likely died giving birth and, in any case, died before the 1795 date of John and Elsie’s marriage bond.

John’s son, William, was most likely the child of Priscilla and I believe that his second eldest son, James, born c1794, was also Priscilla’s child.

Elsie’s family is more of an enigma. She was likely born between 1760-1765. Her son reported in 1880 that his father was born in New York (correct for John) and his mother in Pennsylvania, which seems to be accurate, based on the few clues I’ve found, although she easily could have been born in New Jersey.

Elsie stated in her widow’s pension application that her maiden name was Larrison (aka Larison). The Larrisons of her era were of Scandinavian descent and settled in New Jersey.

Middle Atlantic state records are notoriously lacking in terms of vital records, but with what I’ve gleaned from Larrison records is that the family spread into Pennsylvania by the mid 1700s. Elsie is likely the daughter of one of those Larrisons. The early New Jersey census records are missing.

The 1790 Pennsylvania census lists a single Larrison, John, living in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Washington County sits in the southwestern corner of the state, just north of Greene County. John Larrison’s household consists of two females, one male over 16 and three males under 16. By 1800, John is gone and Isaac’s family is there.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, there is also one “Catchem” living in Washington County – Phillip. Phillip’s household consists of one male over sixteen, two females and two males under 16. By 1800, Phillip is living next door in Green County and is aged 26-44, living with his family.

On the other hand, John Stufflebean’s home before the war was near the Minisink River, which flows through Orange County, New York. In 1790, there were ten Ketcham families living there, but no Larrison families in the entire state.

There is one more detail that might be quite important in helping to untangle this mystery. Andrew Larison, born 2 February 1738 in Hopewell, Hunterdon, New Jersey married (1) Miss Green, who soon died and (2) Lavinia Severns.

Andrew’s death date and place are unknown, but he reportedly had at least the following children: Benjamin, James, Sarah, Mary, George and Andrew, reportedly born between 1761 and 1776.

This George, or another of this name, is thought to have removed to Pennsylvania and then lost to time. By 1810, there is a George “Laurisin,” aged over 45, living with his family in Estill County, Kentucky and he is but a few doors away from Thomas Dunaway. Two of John’s sons – Andrew and James – married Dunaway girls. Andrew married Susanna in 1818 and James, married Mary Dunaway in 1819, both in Estill County.

Given that George and Elsie are the only two known Larison connections in Kentucky and are of a contemporary age, I’d say odds are heavily in favor of the two of them being closely related, likely brother and sister.

A final possible clue is that John and Elsie Stufflebean’s likely first child together was their son born c1796 and named Andrew, which is not a name that occurs anywhere else in the earlier Stufflebean generations. Andrew may well have been named for his maternal grandfather.

Having covered all these tidbits, it is time to refocus on Joseph Ketchum. Joseph Ketchum therefore grew up in a very blended family with one or two stepbrothers (William and possibly James Stufflebean) and many half brothers, too – Michael, Jacob, Hiram, John, Richard and possibly a couple who died young.

It appears that Joseph was an only child by his Ketchum father, or if there were siblings, they likely died young and left no descendants.

Joseph Ketchum appears in very few records. The first mention of his name is found at the time of his marriage to Sarah King on on 5 April 1818 in Estill County. The minister who married them, George Baker, had many close ties to the Stufflebean family.

Third Entry – Joseph Ketchum to Sarah King, 1818
Source: FamilySearch

Second, we find Joseph Kitchum in the 1820 census, living next door to step- or half-brother, James Stufflebean:

Joseph Kitchum, 1820 Census of Estill County, KY

Joseph is aged 26-44, so born not later than 1794 with two females aged 16-25 and one male under the age of ten. One female is obviously wife Sarah. The other is unknown.

By 1830, Joseph Ketchum appears to have made the same trek to Indiana as some of his Stufflebean siblings, as he is living in Jefferson County, Indiana.

By this time, the family has expanded quite a bit. Joseph, aged 30-39 (born 1790-1799) and Sarah, aged 20-29 (born 1800-1809) are the parents of:

  1. Son, aged 10-14 (born 1816-1820)
  2. Son, aged 5-9 (born 1821-1825)
  3. Daughter, aged 5-9 (born 1821-1825)
  4. Daughter, aged 5-9 (born 1821-1825)
  5. Daughter, aged under 5, (born 1826-1830)
  6. Daughter, aged under 5, (born 1826-1830)

Also, like the Stufflebeans, Joseph must not have been enamored with Indiana life and all moved on. In 1838, Joseph was back in Estill County, purchasing land which included the farm on which Joseph was living.

The only pertinent details here (Estill County Deed Book F:441-442, FamilySearch) are that Thomas Duckworth, guardian of Samuel Duckworth, sold land on the head of Stuffle’s Mill Branch (Stufflebean mill?) to Joseph Ketchum for $150 and a witness was Hiram Stufflebean, Joseph’s half brother.

Joseph Ketchum hasn’t been located in the 1840 census, but by 1850, he was enumerated in Breathitt County, which had formed in 1839 from parts of several other counties, including Estill. It is possible that some families were missed in the 1840 enumeration, due to confusion over who was in what county.

Joseph Ketchum, aged 55 and reportedly born in Georgia, was a farmer and head of household consisting of himself and assumed children – John, aged 27, born Kentucky and working in the coal mines, along with daughters Susan, aged 18 and Eliza, aged 16, no birth places noted.

What became of this family? Part 2  is coming up in a few days.




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