Category Archives: Nation

They Mystery of Nancy Nation/s, born 1849, Tennessee

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!






Matthew Winburn Mathis & Alice Nation of Overton County, Tennessee

Today, we have the family sketch of the youngest child of Joseph Michael Nation and his wife, Annie Riddle.

Alice Tilda Nation was born between 1872-1875, probably in Cumberland County, Kentucky. She died at a young age, possibly giving birth to her sixth child c1901 or a later child that didn’t survive.

She married Matthew Winborn Mathis on 10 January 1891, Overton County, Tennessee. He was born on 4 December 1866, Fentress County, Tennessee and died on 9 August 1944 in Robertson County, Tennessee. Matthew never remarried after Alice’s death.


1. Emma J., born January 1892, Overton County, Tennessee. It appears Emma never married. She was at home with her widowed father in 1930 and may be the same person who sailed from LeHavre, France to New York in October 1938. No further information.
2. Em, born May 1894; no further record. He is NOT F. Elmer, who married in 1907 and is linked to hints online.
3. Anna Lou, born December 1896; married William McKinley Harvey, 10 December 1913, Clay County, Tennessee. She may be the Anna who died in 1978 an dis buried with William in Warren County, Tennessee. However, the gravestone says Anna L. and gives a birth date of 14 April 1895. They were the parents of six children.
4. William McKinley, born 7 October 1896/97, Clay County, Tennessee; died 1968. He is buried at Fellowship Cemetery, Overton County, Tennessee. There is no indication that he married.
5. Rosetta, born 17 September 1899, Clay County, Tennessee; died 8 April 1958, Clay County, Tennessee; married Charlie D. Dulworth, 17 July 1918, Clay County, Tennessee. He was born 14 March 1893; died 6 April 1979. They had nine children.
6. Martha Bertina, born 31 December 1901, probably Overton County, Tennessee; died 28 December 1986, Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, but buried Logan County, Kentucky; married Bud Morrow, 6 October 1929, Overton County, Tennessee. They were the parents of two daughters.

There are descendants of Alice and Matthew through their daughters, Anna, Rosetta and Martha.

This concludes the family sketches of the grandchildren of Joseph Michael Nation and his wife, Annie Riddle.

I would love to make contact with family members of any of the branches in this line.

Thomas Nathan Nation & Mary Jane Mathis of Overton County, Tennessee

Thomas Nathan Nation, who sometimes went by Nathan, was the sixth child and fourth son born to Joseph Michael Nation and wife Annie Riddle, on 12 March 1871 in Cumberland County, Kentucky. He died at the relatively young age of 45 on 4 November 1916 in Overton County, Tennessee of an unknown cause.

Thomas married Mary Jane Mathis on 12 May 1892 in Overton County, Tennessee. She was born 15 June 1864, likely in Fentress County, Tennessee and died on 26 July 1926 in Overton County. She was the daughter of Elisha and Maranda (Adkins) Mathis.

This is an interesting family for several reasons. First, Tennessee kept death records from 1910 onward, but neither Thomas nor Mary has a death certificate. Second, Thomas was 21 years old when he married, which was very common. However, Mary Jane was 28 years old, which means she not only married at a late age compared to others in her community, but she was 7 years older than her husband, which was also very unusual.

The Nation family was enumerated twice in 1900. The first was on 8 June 1900 in District 9 of Clay County, Tennessee:

Source: Ancestry

We have:
Nation, Thomas, born May 1871
Nation, Mary, born April 1864
Nation, Mike, born February 1892
Nation, Pansy, born February 1895
Nation, Amy, born December 1896
Nation, Mary, born October 1899

Note that the names of Amy and Mary are very hard to read.

Then, just three days later (!), the Nations were enumerated in District 7 of Overton County, Tennessee:

Source: Ancestry

Here we have:
Nations, Nathan T., born June 1871
Nations, Mary J., born June 1864
Nations, Mike S., born February 1893
Nations, Pansey L., born February 1894
Nations, Carra (Carrie) M., born December 1895
Nations, Sarah A., born October 1898

I’d love to know who gave the details to the enumerators, as the two records have the same birth year for Thomas and Mary, but neither have birth months that match. Then, all the birth months match for the children, but all the years are one off from each other.

Sadly, Thomas and Mary lost their two oldest children, Mike and Pansy, just a few months later. I have to think there was either an epidemic that took them or else they got into some mischief and died of injuries as they were buried one week apart.

The gravestone for Mike gives a birth date of 24 February 1893 and died on 22 September 1900.

Pansy’s gravestone says 15 February 1895 and died on 29 September 1900.

Both are buried at Fellowship Cemetery in Overton County where other family members were also buried.

Life went on, despite the loss of two children in quick succession.

The 1910 census of the family shows that three more children were born to Thomas and Mary and that Thomas’s 76 year old widowed mother, Annie, also lived with the family.


1. Mike S., born 24 February 1893; died 22 September 1900
2. Pansy L., born 15 February 1895; died 29 September 1900
3. Carrie Mae, born 27 December 1895/96; died 25 March 1967, Overton County, Tennessee; married Andrew Jackson Reagan, 11 January 1914, Overton County, Tennessee. He was born 18 December 1886, Clay County, Tennessee and died 27 March 1975, Overton County, Tennessee. They were the parents of ten children.
4. Sarah A., born 26 October 1899; died 11 March 1983, Overton County, Tennessee; married Edmond Mathis, 4 April 1933, Overton County, Tennessee. He was born in 1894 and died in 1958. They were the parents of three children, although one daughter died young.
5. William Thomas, born 31 August 1901; died 2 October 1982, both in Overton County, Tennessee; married Delma Vada Richardson. She was born 20 October 1917; died 22 July 2001, both in Overton County, Tennessee. They had five children.
6. Clay M., born 10 January 1905, Overton County, Tennessee; died 9 February 1967; married Austie Sells, 3 October 1923, all in Overton County, Tennessee. They had three children.
7. Alice M., born 1908, Overton County, Tennessee; died 25 March 1930. She had pre-eclampsia and St. Vitus Dance during pregancy, according to her death certificate. She married Oliver Bedford Brown, 7 December 1924, Overton County, Tennessee. He married (2) Columbia Frances Davidson, 22 February 1931, Clay County, Tennessee. Alice and Bedford had one son, born c1926.

Thomas Nathan and Mary Jane Nation had 21 grandchildren who grew to adulthood, so there are many descendants in this branch of the family.