The family origins of Elsee Larrison Ketchem Stufflebean are somewhat of a mystery. Thanks to John Stufflebean’s Revolutionary War pension application, we know her maiden name was Larison or Larrison. Thankfully, Larison is a somewhat uncommon surname in the pre-Revolutionary War days.
We also know that Elsee Larison married (1) Mr. Ketchem, with whom she probably had one son, Joseph, who appears in land records with the Stufflebeans in Kentucky, born about 1792. Ketchem is also another less common surname.
Census records for Joseph Ketchem don’t help us much in narrowing down his parents’ origins. In 1850, it was reported that Joseph was born in Georgia, in 1860 New Jersey was given as his birthplace and in 1870, the census taker filled in Kentucky as place of birth. I know of no family ties to Georgia and I tend to doubt that he was born there. Joseph may or may not have been born in Kentucky, but the Larison family did originate in New Jersey.
Elsee was also the mother of many Stufflebean children: James, Andrew, Michael, Jacob, Hiram, John and Richard plus the two youngest boys, who appear not to have lived to adulthood.
Unfortunately, most of her children died before the 1880 census. However, John was alive and living in Hancock County, Indiana.
Unfortunately, whoever reported his family information just said he and his parents were all born in Kentucky.
One more child, Richard, was also still alive and resided in Madison County, Arkansas. His information was a bit more helpful:
Richard’s birthplace is reported to be Kentucky and his father’s as New York. Both of those are true. It gives his mother’s birth place as Pennsylvania, which is food for thought, and certainly possible.
We need to switch gears here for a minute and take a brief look at the Ketchems. I have found no evidence of any probate, or even a tax record for any man named Ketchem in Bourbon County, Kentucky, which is where John Stufflebean and Elsee Ketchem married in 1795.
However, a cursory look at the Ketchem surname shows that the Ketchum/Catchem/Ketchem name does appear in colonial New York and New Jersey, specifically in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. With few to no clues to go on here, I have to set the Ketchems aside for now.
The Larison/Larrison family descends from immigrant John Larison. He was born about 1630 and reportedly died in 1693 in New York. John Larison had a number of children, including a son named William.
William Larison/Larrison was born c1676 and left a will dated 7 April 1749 and proved 30 May 1749 in Middlesex County, New Jersey. He named sons James, William, Thomas, John and George along with daughters Elizabeth Stout (wife of David), Martha Hide, Mary Higgins, Rebeckah Brittain, Deborah Shippey and Keziah Vantiborrow(?).
I need to keep in mind the names of John and Elsee’s sons – James, Andrew, Michael, Jacob, Hiram, John and Richard. Michael, Jacob and John are all names that frequently appear in the German Stufflebean family.
Yet, the two eldest sons, James and Andrew, have decidedly un-German given names. Could they come from the Larrison family? I don’t know.
If William Larrison married around 1700 and had children about every two years, as was common, then his eleven children would have been born from maybe 1702 to 1725 range. That is without knowing whether he had children who did not survive him. It is certainly possible that William Larrison was the grandfather of Elsee and one of his sons was her father.
The Larrison family began to scatter in the years leading up to the American Revolution. In fact, little is known about William’s sons, John and George, although it is said that at least one of them went to Pennsylvania.
Next, I looked at the 1790 census of Pennsylvania, as the early New Jersey censuses are all missing and the family would have moved westward to get to Kentucky.
Note – While poking around looking for information on William’s son, George Larrison, I noticed that he has but one child attributed to him, a daughter Keziah, who is said to have married William Maple about 1770.
The Washington County, Pennsylvania 1790 census yielded three most interesting names – John Larison, Phillip Catchem and William Maple! They were pages apart, but given that all of these surnames aren’t exactly Smith and Jones, it is curious to find all in one county far from New Jersey.
I also checked the DAR Patriot Index for the surnames of William Larrison’s married daughters. One David Stout, from New Jersey, died in 1827 in Mason County, Kentucky. One Azariah Higgins, born c1754 from Hunterdon County, New Jersey died in 1812 in Fayette County, Kentucky and one Samuel Britton from New Jersey died in 1834 in Mercer County, Kentucky.
Remember the FAN club – people didn’t travel in vacuums, they traveled with friends and family, particularly when heading to Kentucky in those early years. Those who had service in the Revolution would likely have been children or nephews of William Larrison’s daughters, but the fact that these families all ended up in Kentucky seems like way more than mere coincidence.
The Kentucky census records also yielded an interesting entry – George Larrison of Estill County. John and Else married in Bourbon County, but lived in the section that was first set off to form Estill County and then, finally, Lee County.
George Larrison is listed in the 1800 tax records of Madison County, Kentucky. He is also enumerated multiple times in the censuses. in 1810, the household had one male over 45, one female over 45, one female 16-25, one female 10-15, two males 10-15, and two males under 10. George would have been born no later than 1765 and easily could be Elsee’s brother.
In 1830, the George Larrison home includes one male 80-89, one female 80-89, one male 60-69, one male 30-39, one female 30-39, one male 15-19, two males 10-14, one female 10-14, two females 5-9, one female under 5 and two males under 5.
In the Estill County, Kentucky marriage records, I found George Larrison married Nancy Dunaway on 26 June 1817. I also found two Stufflebean marriages. James Stufflebean married Mary Dunaway on 13 October 1819 and Andrew Stufflebean married Susanna Dunaway on 4 August 1818, both in Estill County. I think there is a definite FAN club association happening here.
George Larrison definitely merits an even closer look than I’ve taken in the Kentucky records. More to come!