Category Archives: Head Family

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.


Anthony & Mary Head, Washington County, VA, 1780s

Anthony Head was probably born c1735. Many think he is the Anthony Head in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1763. Culpepper County borders Orange County, Virginia, where an earlier Anthony Head was living and there is speculation that these men are father and son. Orange County records are on my research list to see if there is any documentation for this theory.

Anthony’s wife was named Mary. Some speculate that her maiden name was Garvin, but I have not found any proof of this. By 1773, this family had settled on the frontier in Washington County, Virginia.

Anthony Head died about 1781, probably in Washington County, as Mary was head of household on the next few surviving county tax lists.

Mary entered a marriage agreement with Isaac Baker of nearby Sullivan County, Tennessee on 4 September 1787. He agreed to convey one third of his property to her and to provide her two youngest sons (James and Gavin) with 100 acres each. The agreement was recorded in Washington County, Virginia.

Isaac Baker died in 1793, with Mary surviving him by many years. Her heirs filed a lawsuit at the 2 August 1816 term of Scott County, Virginia court against the administrator of her estate, her son, James Head. The suit was eventually dismissed, but it is invaluable as it names her heirs.


  1. Mary, born c1758; married Lewis Pitts, c1778, probably Washington County, Virginia. The eldest male and female in Lewis’s household in 1820 in Tyler County, Virginia were over 45. Both seem to have died before 1830, as the younger Pitts found in Tyler and Washington Counties have no elderly people living with them.
  2. Phebe, born c1761, Virginia; died after 1850, when she was 89 years old and living with her son’s family in Lawrence County, Alabama;  married Samuel Livingston, c1781, probably Washington County, Virginia. He was born 1750-1760; died after 1830, probably Lawrence County, Alabama, where he lived at the time.
  3. Elizabeth, born c1763; married Peter Livingston, c1783. He died c1815.
  4. Millicent, born c1765; married Loving Bledsoe., c1785. He was a Revolutionary War soldier, born c1755, Rowan County, North Carolina and died before 6 October 1817 in St. Charles County, Missouri, when Anthony Bledsoe served as his administrator.
  5. Joseph, born c1767; died after August 1816, when his mother’s estate was probated; married Mary Young, 5 February 1788, Washington County, Virginia. They may have eventually moved to Missouri after settling in Lee County, Virginia.
  6. William, born c1769; died 1822, Howard County, Missouri, where his estate was probated;  married Susannah Livingston,
  7. Anthony; living in Boone County, Missouri by 1817. He may be the Anthony Head, over 45 years old, living in Washington County, Indiana in 1820.
  8. Gavin, born 1770-1780; died after 1830, probably Boone County, Missouri; married Catherine Hensley.
  9. James, born c1777, probably Washington County, Virginia; died after 1850, probably Scott County, Virginia; married Mary. She was born c1780, Virginia; died after 1850, probably also in Scott County, Virginia.

Lewis Peavlers 1, 2 and 3

It is time to take a Look at my husband’s Peavler family. The Peavlers have been difficult to track, but it hasn’t been for lack of effort. I personally know researchers who were actively working on this line 20 and 30 years ago. Part of the difficulty is that Peavler is one of those names that has been spelled a ton of different ways – Peebler, Pevler, Peepler, Penler, etc. Some believe that Bibler, Biebler and other variations are members of the same family and some of them may well be.

The family was German and the immigrant might be the grandfather of this Lewis Peavler, also Lewis Peavler. However, many have found some earlier men with names similar to Peavler and believe that they might all be related.

In between grandfather and grandson, there was a third Lewis Peavler. Add to the fact that the Peavlers moved southwest from Frederick and Shenandoah Counties, Virginia to the 1800 frontier area where Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee meet, you can see why they are a challenge.

The only time I’ve written about any Peavler was when I shared the story of John Stufflebean, dying in the Civil War in 1864, and leaving his widow, Matilda M. Peavler and their young children. The family never recuperated from John’s death and Matilda, in particular, was never the same from what has been gleaned in records.

Matilda’s father was the third Lewis Peavler in the line just mentioned, but I am going to begin the Peavler story at the earliest point which I know.

The first mention I have found of a Lewis Peavler is Lewis Peebler/Piplar, who received 509 acres of land in 1766 in Frederick County, Virginia. This is the Lewis who is believed to have been born about 1730. At that time, Frederick County was quite large, encompassing was became Shenandoah County, plus several other modern Virginia counties.

Shenandoah County was formed in 1772, but was renamed Dunmore County from about 1772 to 1778, when it went back to its original name of Shenandoah County. In 1773, Lewis Pibler/Pidler is mentioned in Dunmore’s records, along with Christian and Abraham Pibler. It is believed that Christian and Abraham were sons of Lewis, but there is no proof. The supposition is that because the name was unusual and Abraham and Christian aren’t in Frederick County records, that they were sons of Lewis who came of age by 1775.

Lewis is mentioned in Shenandoah County land records in 1779. He apparently lived near the Little Hawksbill. By 1785, Lewis, Jacob, Francis and Christian Peavler are all mentioned in land records.

Additionally, John W. Wayland’s book, A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia (Strasburg, VA: Shenendoah Publishing House, 1927) provides a few more clues found in the early marriage records:

Francis Pevler and Mary Dence/Pence, 15 April 1783
Christian Pictler and Elizabeth Heston, 4 January 1784
Abraham Pideler and Barbara Horkman, 19 July 1791
George Woods and Susannah Pauler, 4 June 1793
Abraham Biedler and Anna Funkhouser, 16 April 1799

This is a great example of all the different ways Peavler has been spelled. Without seeing the original record, it is impossible to determine if Pictler and Piper are variations or not, but no others have been found in the area with those same spellings. Most Peavler researchers accept that they may well be Peavler marriages. The families involved were definitely German.

By the 1790s, Lewis Peavler resided in Rockingham County, Virginia. Rockingham was formed from Augusta County in 1778 so the Peavlers had begun their move along the Virginia ridge southwesterly towards the frontier area where Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee meet.  Lewis Peavler supposedly died in Rockingham County about 1798, but I have nothing to support this statement.

Conjecture about this family – based on research begun in the early 20th century onwards – is about all there is to go on to determine a possible family configuration. Thus, we have:

Lewis Peavler, born c1730 and died c1798, probably Rockingham County, Virginia. His wife might have been Barbara. The 1801 Personal Property Tax List for Rockingham County, Virginia contains the names of Barbara Peebler and Jacob Peebler, which might be the source of Lewis’s wife’s name.

Possible Children:

Christian, born c1756
Barbara, born c1758; married John Taylor, c1777
Jacob, born c1761
Frantz (Francis), born c1763
Lewis, born c1773; married Catherine. Some say she was Catherine Bull, c1799
Mary, born c1775; married Christian Keagy, 17 March 1794, Rockingham County, Virginia
Anna, born c1778; married John Hite, c1799

IF Christian is Lewis’s son and IF he was the first born child AND the family followed traditional German naming patterns, then this Lewis Peavler might be the son of a Christian Peavler. The pattern goes: first son named for father’s father, second son named for mother’s father. Then first daughter named for mother’s mother and second daughter named for father’s mother.

Are you rolling your eyes at all these ifs, maybes and circas? The same thing has been going on for decades among the Peavler researchers. Come back tomorrow for Lewis Peavler 2.

If any Peavler researchers are reading this, PLEASE leave a comment.