As have I taken a new look at some of my husband’s Nation family, I’ve had some success in adding to my knowledge of that branch of the family tree.
The direct line family members who lived in the 1800s, settled in an area that straddles the Kentucky/Tennessee state borders and made frequent moves and trips to each place.
Henry Nation, born c1814 in Ohio, but who settled in Fentress County, Tennessee, has many gaps in his family configuration due to a 1904 courthouse fire there that destroyed the marriage and probate records. Although land deeds survived, the Nation family wasn’t big on buying and selling real estate. That leave the census records to tell the story of their lives.
Henry Nation married at least three times. The name of his first wife, the mother of my husband’s 2X great grandfather Joseph Michael Nation, is completely unknown, but they would have married c1832 when Henry was only about 18 years old. However, the mystery surrounding Nancy Nations might offer a clue to Henry’s wife’s identity.
In 1830, Isaac Nations (the spelling of the surname goes back and forth between Nation and Nations until it stabilizes at the turn of the 20th century) is living in Overton County, Tennessee and Henry Nation is undoubtedly one of the two males aged 15-19 at home in that census.
By 1840, both Isaac Nations and Henry Nations have moved next door to Fentress County, Tennessee. The two families are living nine doors apart, but perhaps more importantly, Henry is living right next door to one Henry Cravens, who is not well documented online. More about the Cravens family in a moment.
Henry married a second unknown wife by 1844, but I am beginning to believe she was a Ledbetter. That’s a story for another day.
His third wife was Mary Riddle, daughter of Isaac Riddle and Catherine Johnson, who mostly lived in Cumberland County, Kentucky, but who lived in Fentress County, Tennessee at least from c1839 through the 1840s.
By 1850, Henry Nation and Mary Riddle are married with one baby at home, Nancy Nations, aged 1 year, so born c1848 or 1849 at the latest.
In 1860, Henry, Mary, and three other children – Isaac Sue, born 2 June 1853, Zerilda, born February 1857 and Sarah Emeline, born April 1860, are living in Arkansas County, Arkansas, but little Nancy is nowhere to be found.
No marriage record has been found for Henry and Mary, but Henry’s son born on 11 May 1844 is possibly the child of a Cravens or a Ledbetter, who died when Henry was only six weeks old, per his 1909 Nebraska obituary.
That leaves a gap of five years time during which Henry and Mary might have married. On the exact same day, Mary Nation was enumerated at home with Henry and, as Polly Riddle, living in her father’s home, both in Fentress County, Tennessee. Census day was 1 June 1850 – does this perhaps mean that Henry and Mary married during the summer and one household correctly reported the residents in the home on that day and the other reported who was living there on 13 September? Or does it mean that Polly was perhaps visiting her parents when the census taker came around and she was enumerated twice?
I don’t know, but the answer might indicate whether or not Mary (Riddle) Nation was the mother of Nancy Nations, born c1849.
The reason I question Nancy’s mother’s identity is because on 5 September 1850, Peter and Patsey (Cravens) Livingston, enumerated in Fentress County, Tennessee have a large family of 8 of their own children at home PLUS a little girl named Nancy Nations, aged 1 year old, so born c1848 or 1849!
Is this the same Nancy Nations living with Henry and Mary (Riddle) Nations? Well, there is an online tree that claims Henry and Mary as the parents of Nancy, who lived with Peter and Patsey Livingston.
Why would the Livingstons take in Nancy Nations, who has no apparent connection to the couple? Remember, I said Henry Nations lived next door to Henry Cravens in 1840 in Fentress County??? That Henry is aged 40-50 years old – easily of an age to have a daughter born around 1815 who married and died as a young wife.
I don’t know how Patsey Cravens, born c1804, is related to Henry Cravens, but they are close in age and possibly siblings. Could Henry Nations have married a Cravens who was the mother of son Henry Thomas and/or Nancy Nations? If Mary Riddle was not the mother of Nancy, perhaps Nancy was handed off to relatives of her deceased mother, who might have been a Cravens by birth.
What became of Nancy Nations who was living with the Livingstons in 1850? I believe they raised her to adulthood. Peter Livingston moved his family to Howell County, Missouri, where they were living in 1870. Nancy Nations married Samuel Alexander Potter on 24 September 1868 in Howell County.
There are no Nation families living in Howell County in 1860 or 1870, further supporting my theory that Nancy lived with the Livingstons until she married.
The Livingstons haven’t been found in the 1860 census. Perhaps that is the year they made the moved to Missouri.
After marriage, Samuel Potter worked in various mines with the family living in Lowell, Cherokee, Kansas in 1870, Galena, Jasper, Missouri in 1880 and 1900, South Carbondale, Garfield, Colorado in 1900, and, finally, Quapaw, Ottawa, Oklahoma in 1920 and 1930.
Samuel died there on 16 June 1930 and Nancy passed away on 8 May 1933, both in Quapaw, Ottawa, Oklahoma, but both are buried with other family members in Hillcrest Cemetery, Cherokee County, Kansas.
I would love to see Nancy’s death certificate to see if her parents are named. However, 1933 was well into the Great Depression and it doesn’t appear that she has a death certificate recorded.
Samuel and Nancy Potter were the parents of seven children and have living descendants today.
If you are a relative of this couple, I would love to hear from you!