Unanswered Questions: Family of Isaac Sturgell (1823-1909) of Barry County, MO, Part 1

I make it a habit to return to branches of the family tree which have been ignored for quite some time. One of ancestors in those branches is Isaac Sturgell, my husband’s 2X great grandfather through his mother, Ruby Sturgell Stufflebean.

Most of what is found online about Isaac relate to records that I first found back in the pre-internet days when many letters were written and microfilms were read.

In spite of all that I have pieced together about Isaac through the years, I still have many unanswered questions about the Sturgells.

So, exactly what unresolved questions do I have? As I meander through this family, I will be inserting my many questions along the way.

First, let me present the very extended family of Isaac Sturgell/Sturgill/Sturgeon. They were experts at two activities – getting married and moving!

Isaac Sturgell was born c1823, probably in Grayson County, Virginia. Recorded as Isaac Sturgeon, he married Mary Bandy on 27 June 1844 in Lawrence County, Ohio. The Bandy family was also from Virginia, but lived in Botetourt County.

The only Sturgeon/Sturgell living in Lawrence County, Ohio at the time of the 1840 census was William Sturgeon, who was of an age to be Isaac’s father and he had a male in his home born in the 1820s. William Sturgill/Sturgeon has been documented on tax lists in Grayson County, Virginia and is one of the children of Francis Sturgill, Revolutionary War soldier of Ashe County, North Carolina and Rebecca Hash.

The name of William Sturgill’s first wife is unknown, but he married (2) Catherine Elizabeth (Yingling) Brown, 12 March 1839, Lawrence County, Ohio.

Question 1 – Who was William Sturgill’s first wife, likely the mother of all his children? Family lore says Sophia King, daughter of a doctor from Newport, Rhode Island, but I haven’t found a shred of documentary evidence to support the story.

Question 2 – When and where did William Sturgill die? He last appears in a land deed on 27 June 1844. Catherine is living with an adult son’s family in 1850. Family lore says William died in a sawmill accident in “Arkansas or Missouri.”

Isaac Sturgion and Mary (Bandy) were living in Barry County, Missouri by the 1850 census with two year old daughter M.J. Place of birth for all three is listed as Virginia, but it is more likely that their daughter was born in Ohio. This family constatly moved, but I have found no evidence that they ever returned to Virginia after their families moved to Ohio.

There are NO other families with ties to Ohio living anywhere near them in Barry County.

Question 3 – Why did Isaac Sturgell choose to settle in Barry County?

Isaac’s reputed brother, Alvin Sturgill, born c1815, North Carolina, was living in Lawrence County, Ohio in 1850, but in Nodaway County, Missouri by 1860, where he died in 1904.

Here’s where the people and records multiply.

Isaac Sturgell married (2) Susannah Douthit Alberty, 30 September 1867, Newton County, Missouri. I initially thought that Mary Bandy Sturgell died between the 1860 census and this marriage. That is, I believed it until I found a quit claim land deed filed in the Peoria, Illinois County Courthouse and recorded in Barry County, Missouri when I researched in the Barry County Courthouse.

It proved that Mary Bandy Sturgell left Isaac and took their daughters with her. Their sons remained with Isaac. More on Mary in a minute, but this quit claim proves that Isaac both knew where Mary was living and how to contact her.

Also in the Barry County Courthouse was the divorce packet for Susannah, who accused Isaac of not providing for his and her children and for bringing strange women to the home and providing for them! She also accused Isaac of squandering the small estate left by her first husband, John Alberty. They divorced in 1875.

Isaac Sturgell married (3) Nancy R. Fields, 27 April 1876, Boone County, Arkansas. This marriage was short lived, as I found Nancy in the 1880 census, but no Isaac around.

Question 4 – Did Isaac and Nancy divorce or did he just go on his way? Boone County Chancery Court records include many divorce petitions, but none was found for this couple.

Isaac Sturgell married (4) Nancy P. Hensley, 1 August 1877, Pope County, Arkansas. This marriage didn’t last either, as Nancy is found in 1880 in Pope County, but no Isaac around.

Question 5 – Did Isaac and Nancy divorce, or did Isaac just walk away?

Isaac Sturgell seemed to have had enough of marriage after wife #4. He returned to Barry County, Missouri where he died in February 1909 at the county farm (the poorhouse). His obituary said all his children had died, but that wasn’t true about some of his daughters. It seems he had no contact with his girls and those who knew him at the end of his life had no idea that Isaac had children and grandchildren who survived him. I can’t help but think he lived a very unhappy life.

Mary Bandy Sturgell had her own rocky life after she and the girls left Isaac and settled in Peoria, Illinois, near where her siblings had settled after they left Ohio.

Mary Sturgion married (2) William J. Wade, 12 January 1869, Tazewell County, Illinois. This marriage was a short one, as William and children are found in 1880, but Mary and the girls are not with him.

Question 6 – Did Mary and William Wade divorce or did they just move on?

Mary Sturgell married (3) Benjamin Cookman, 28 July 1877, Peoria County, Illinois. Ben died of lupus in 1885.

Mary Cookman married (4) George Jacob Fouts, 7 March 1889, Peoria County, Illinois. George died in 1894, but his obituary makes no mention of any surviving widow and Mary hasn’t been found in any record after this marriage date.

Question 7 – When and where did Mary Bandy Sturgell Wade Cookman Fouts die?

If your head is spinning over these eight marriages, hold on because we are just getting started!

Isaac and Mary (Bandy) Sturgell were the parents of eight children, who had their own sagas to tell. Tomorrow, we will look at even more unanswered questions about this family.

I have to admit there is not one single other family in my ancestral tree that has so many loose ends!




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