Category Archives: Peavler

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.


Lewis Peavler #3 and Catherine Head

Although the Peavler family spent many years in Knox County, Kentucky, several moved on yet again. Lewis and Catherine Head Peavler moved on to Sullivan County, Missouri. Even by today’s standards, the trip is long – 685 miles in a northwesterly direction and almost 11 hours by car.

I believe they migrated with other ethnic German families who decided that Missouri was the place to be. I’ve noticed many names, like Bull and Standifer, that were in Knox County and then later in the Linn and Sullivan Counties area in Missouri.

If the birth years of their children are fairly accurate, Lewis and Kate, as she was called, left Kentucky sometime after the 1850 census of Knox County, where they were enumerated, and 1852, when their last child, Thomas M. Peavler, was born in Missouri.

It also helps that a biographical sketch published in the History of Adair, Sullivan, Putnam and Schuyler Counties, MO, Goodspeed Publishing Co., Chicago, 1888 details John Ira Peavler’s life and his family.

The father of our subject was Lewis Peavler, a native of Tennessee, who married a Virginia lady by the name of Kate Head. From the union with this excellent woman were born eight children, of whom but six are living. Elizabeth is the wife of Thomas Standiford, of Oklahoma. Matilda became the wife and is now the widow of John Stufflebean. Isaac died during the war, having been in service for some time before his death. William now resides in Texas; James, in California and Thomas resided in Oklahoma, while another is deceased. Our subject was third in order of birth.

There are a couple of inconsistencies in the sketch. First, it says that Lewis and Kate had eight children, but it appears they had nine. The 1830 census of Scott County, Virginia shows Lewis Peaver, aged 20-30 with a female in the same age bracket plus a female under 5. That would be Sarah Catherine. The 1840 census of Knox County, Kentucky shows Lewis and Kate with a female 10-15, female 5-10, a male 5-10, a female under 5 and a male under 5. That would account for Sarah Catherine, Mary Elizabeth, John Ira, Matilda M. and Isaac Lewis.

Sarah Catherine Peavler Evans died in 1861, her husband remarried and the new family moved to Josh Bell County, Kentucky. Perhaps whoever gave the biographical information for the book knew John Ira was the third born, but perhaps forgot or didn’t know Sarah Catherine’s name. The two other deceased children by 1888 were Isaac, mentioned as dying in the war and Docia Peavler Smith, who died in 1875.

Lewis Peavler, born about 1805 in Tennessee or Virginia married Catherine (Kate) Head about 1830.

Lewis and Catherine (Head) Peavler,
probably with youngest child, Thomas M. Peavler, c1864

A now deceased Peavler researcher shared a copy of this photo with me back in the 1980s. The boy wasn’t identified, but I think he is their son, Thomas. Their clothing styles fit the Civil War era and Thomas would have been about 12 in 1864.


Sarah Catherine, born 4 September 1829, Scott County, Virginia; died 16 December 1861. She married William K. Evans on 30 May 1844 in Knox County, Kentucky.
Mary Elizabeth, born 14 November 1832 in Virginia or Kentucky; died 11 May 1921, Noble, Cleveland County, Oklahoma. She married Thomas Standifer on 2 September 1849, Knox County, Kentucky.
John Ira, born 2 May 1834, Knox County, Kentucky; died 10 August 1906, Saline County, Missouri. He married Louisa Bull on 26 November 1864 in St. Louis, Missouri.
Matilda M., born December 1836, Knox County, Kentucky; reportedly died on 6 August 1900, Linn County, Missouri. She married (1) John Stufflebean, who died in 1864 in the Civil War and (2) John Hall in 1869, but they divorced. Matilda had five children with John Stufflebean, but no Hall children.
Isaac Lewis, born c1839, Knox County, Kentucky; died 26 February 1865 fighting in the Civil War. He reportedly married Rachel Jane Stufflebean on 7 February 1860, but no marriage record has been found.
Docia C., born c1842, Knox County, Kentucky; died 16 February 1875, Linn County, Missouri. She married Addison J. Smith on 2 September 1858, Sullivan County, Missouri.
William Franklin, born July 1843, Knox County, Kentucky; died 28 September 1927, Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas. He married (1) Mary E. Chaplin on 26 February 1862 in Sullivan County, Missouri and (2) Julia, c1891, probably in Hunt County, Texas
James George, aka Jim George, born 20 April 1846, Knox County, Kentucky; died 1930 in Yuba County, California. He married Mary Elizabeth Haynes on 14 December 1865, Linn County, Missouri. Jim George and Mary are both buried at Wheatland Cemetery in Yuba County.
Thomas M., born c1852, probably Sullivan County, Missouri; died 5 February 1938, Muskogee, Muskogee County, Oklahoma. He married (1) Sarah Matilda Carmack,  1871 and (2) widow Prudy Anna Bull on 4 October 1883, Linn County, Missouri.

If you are descended from Lewis #1, #2 or all three, please leave a comment.


Lewis Peavler #2

Two days ago, I meandered through some of the sparse early records for Lewis Peavler #1. Today’s journey will be a little bit easier because Lewis Peavler #2 and his wife, Catherine Head both died sometime after the 1850 census was taken, when they were living in Knox County, Kentucky.

Yesterday, the Peavler story began, at least where I could pick it up, in the northern most peak of Virginia in Frederick County. The family migrated in southwesterly direction down into Dunmore/Shenandoah County and then finally into Rockingham County, where Lewis #1 apparently died.

However, the next generation continued its travels down to the area where Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee all meet. This was the wild frontier at the turn of the 19th century.

This map is a perfect representation of how difficult it was to determine where one was living back then. The next generation of Peavlers have been associated with Scott County, Virginia, Knox County, Kentucky and Sullivan County, Tennessee. Those counties are roughly where the red arrows are pointing. You can see that, geographically, they are all very close together.

Lewis Peavler and his wife, Catherine, who some believe was Catherine Bull, were enumerated in the 1850 census of Knox County, Kentucky. Unfortunately, they were living alone.

Lewis’s age was reported as 73, giving a birth year of about 1777. Catherine was three years younger so born about 1780. Neither is found in 1860 and it is likely that both died during the 1850s decade.

Lewis’s exact whereabouts haven’t been determined, but it is very likely that he was living in the VA-KY-TN area about 1800. He and Catherine married about 1799. He hasn’t been found in any census from 1800 through 1830.

Proposed Children:

Margaret, born c1802; married Abraham Eakin, 7 January 1830, Scott County, Virginia. He reportedly died the same year.
William, born c1804, in Tennessee per the 1880 census. He is a huge mystery. There is a newlywed William Peavler in the 1830 census of Scott County, Virginia, but William isn’t again found until he is a widower in the 1880 census. He is living with his son, Lewis, and family. Son Lewis was born about 1854 in Kentucky, but he hasn’t been found in earlier censuses, either.
Lewis, born c1805, in Tennessee per the 1850 census. He married Catherine Head, c1828, probably in Scott County, Virginia. This is Lewis #3. He will be discussed in detail in tomorrow’s post.  Both died after the 1880 census.
Christopher, born 12 August 1807 in Virginia or Kentucky; died 8 April 1889, Linn County, Missouri. He married Anna Head, c1830, probably in Scott County, Virginia.
John, born c1813, Virginia. He is not found in any other census after 1850. The last record of him is in 1853 when he received a land grant of 40 acres on Little Clear Creek on 17 March 1853.  He married Mary Bull, c1838, probably in Knox County, Kentucky.
Michael, born c1815, Virginia. He married Sarah Bull, c1835, probably in Knox County, Kentucky. They later lived in Linn County, Missouri and Michael reportedly died there in 1869.

The family of Lewis Peavler #2 isn’t much less of a mystery than that of Lewis #1. Much more is known about the family of Lewis #3 because his family is mostly intact for the 1850 census. His story will be told tomorrow.