Category Archives: Riddle

Descendants of Joseph Michael Nation & Christianna (Annie) Riddle, Overton County, TN

The Nation and Riddle families of Overton County, Tennessee and Cumberland County, Kentucky aren’t the easiest families to research.

First, they lived near the state line of Kentucky and Tennessee and moved seamlessly back and forth, living in several counties in the two states before venturing further from home to Missouri and Oklahoma.

Second, there were a lot of members in each family and they used and reused the same names to the point that cousins, close in age, carried the same given names.

Lastly, vital records are scarce in many of the places they lived and none felt the need to leave wills or probate records or even gravestones.

My husband’s 2X great grandparents are Joseph Michael Nation and Christianna (Annie) Riddle. They are an excellent example of the fluid movement between states, as Annie was born in Cumberland County, Kentucky while Joseph Michael (I think he was called Mike) was born in Tennessee, probably in Overton County.

Annie reported in 1900 that she had given birth to 15 (!!!) children. She was married at least twice –  (1) Elijah York and had two children and (2) Joseph Michael Nation, and had eight surviving children with him.

Children: Nation

  1. Nancy Ann
  2. Henry Jackson
  3. Joseph
  4. John Wesley
  5. Rosetta
  6. Thomas Nathan
  7. Clayton Columbus
  8. Alice

My next several blog posts will look at their grandchildren through Nancy Ann, Henry Jackson, John Wesley, Rosetta, Thomas Nathan and Alice. Their son Joseph was described as mentally deficient and unable to care for himself. He didn’t marry and has no known descendants. Clayton Columbus is my husband’s great grandfather and I’ve already written about his family.

Let’s begin with their eldest child, Nancy Ann Nation.

Before starting, I need to caution family researchers to take care when looking at her records, as there is another Nancy, close in age, (maiden name Pennington), who married a man often found as J.W. Burk. However, this is a different couple and the husband of that Nancy is John W. Burk.

Nancy Ann Nation was born 20 March 1858, in Cumberland County, Kentucky and on died 31 August 1915, Verden, Grady County, Oklahoma. A notice of her funeral is found in the Chickasha Daily Express, 1 September 1915, page 1. It just give the time of the service and says she is survived by her husband and several children, all unnamed.

Nancy married (1) Elrick Millard Filmore Riddle, 15 November 1875, Cumberland County, Kentucky (2) James W. Burk, c1882, probably in Tennessee.

Elrick Millard Fillmore Riddle was born c1857, Kentucky and died between the 1880 census and 1888, which is when James and Nancy Burk reported they married on the 1900 census.

Filmore Riddle and Nancy are found in the 1880 census of Cumberland County, Kentucky with their two children:

  1. Lucinda Jane, born 13 April 1878, Kentucky; died 18 June 1945, Greene County, Missouri; married John Blunt Baldwin, 4 September 1899, Henry County, Missouri. Her death certificate notes a Kentucky birth, but also says she lived in Missouri all her life, so the Riddles might have removed to Missouri shortly after the 1880 census. Lucinda was the mother of nine children – Harry Sherman, Bertha Frances, George Arastus, William Henry, Lola May, Levey Ralph, John Andrew, Dorothy Carolyn and Katherine J. , so Nancy Ann has many descendants today through Lucinda.
  2. Sherman, born c1880; no further record and likely died before 1895, as Lucinda named her son, born 1895, Harry Sherman Baldwin and Nancy reported having given birth to 5 children, but 4 living in 1900. She had three children with James Burk, so Sherman had died.

James W. Burk (often found as J.W. in records)  was born on 10 December 1852 and died on 12 January 1925 in Grayson County, Texas. His death certificate states that he was buried in Chickasha, Grady, Oklahoma, but has no stone there. I suspect that he was buried next to Nancy in Verden, but there is no stone there, either.

Keeping track of James and Nancy Burk is no simple feat. He was reportedly born in Kentucky, but no marriage record has been found for them there or in Tennessee or Missouri. However, James W. Burk married (1) Unknown and had at least two daughters – Sarah Elizabeth, born 1874, Kentucky; married John Rutledge and lived in Van Alstyne, Grayson, Texas and Addie, born c1883, in Illinois. She married Michael S. Stever, 21 July 1898, Springfield, Greene, Missouri. They removed to Denton County, Texas where Addie gave birth to a son, John Henry, in 1905 and between the birth and 1910, when Mike Stever married (2) Sallie Price, 4 July 1910, Denton County, Texas.

This family moved all over the place. In 1900, they lived in Prairie, Washington, Arksansas, where Jim was a day laborer. The family didn’t remain in one place for very long!


  1. William Henry, born 26 February 1889, Burnside, Pulaski, Kentucky; died 21 April 1960, Harlingen, Cameron, Texas; married Corrine Berrier, 1909, Hopkins County, Texas. They divorced before 1920, but were the parents of Gladys, Ray, Ethel (married Mr. Ward) and James Elijah. by 1920. Corrine is buried in Hildalgo County, Texas. She was survived by Gladys, Ray and Ethel.
  2. Wesley Cleveland, born 1 December 1893, Springfield, Greene, Missouri; died 1 December 1944, Van Alstyne, Grayson, Texas; perhaps married, but no record found. He died of TB, but was noted on his WWII draft registration card to be a recently released U.S. federal prisoner from U.S. P.H.S. Narcotic Hospital & Farm, Fort Worth, Texas. Wesley gave Sarah Rutledge as his contact person on his draft registration record.
  3. Mae, born 1903, Texas; died after 1910; no further information, but she might be Mae Elizabeth Burk who married James M. Hadley, 7 September 1921, Archer County, Texas.

To summarize, Nancy Ann Nation has a number of grandchildren and further descendants through daughter Lucinda Jane, who married John B. Baldwin.

Possible descendants of James W. Burk and Nancy Ann Nation are much less certain. It appears that Wesley had no children, as a name can’t be found for a hypothetical wife. William and Corrine had four children and it is possible that they have descendants.

Next, we will look at the family of Henry Jackson Nation, the second child and oldest son of Jospeh Michael Nation and Annie Riddle.

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #9: John Riddle Cherokee Enrollment Application

I have heard many people say that they have Cherokee blood, but very few are able to back up that statement with any proof. A while ago, I blogged about my husband’s Riddle family and I heard from a reader who was trying to find their own Riddle connection to the Cherokee Nation.

There are some resources available for searching applicants for membership in the late 1800s – mainly the Dawes Rolls – but there is a second, less well known database, the Guion Miller Rolls of 1908.

My reader had been trying to prove her Cherokee roots for 30 years, but the answer was in the Guion Miller Rolls.

Statement of John Riddle, 1908

No. 19252 John Riddle being first duly sworn deposes and says:

I am 45 years of age, and live in Ashe County, N.C.
I claim Cherokee blood. All my people and other old people say it is Cherokee Indian blood. I claim through my father.
My mother had no Indian blood. I do not know when my father
died. My father left my mother before I was grown, and they
heard he was dead. My mother was a White woman. My
father, William Riddle, was born in Ashe County, and lived
here a large part of his wife (sic). I never heard of his receiving
any money from the Government on account of his Indian blood.
I think my Indian blood came through my father’s mother. I
disremember now, what her name was. She has been dead a long time.
I have seen her while she was living in Ashe County. In my
application, I said that her name was Sarah Riddle, and that must
be right. My grandparents claimed to be Cherokee Indians.
I am related to the Sizemores, but I cannot say what Sizemore.
I do not know who Em Sizemore is. My grandfather Sawyers on
my mother’s side wrote my family history down for me, and
Mr. Grayball filled out my application from that. My father died
in Kentucky I was told.

John (hisXmark) Riddle

Subscribed and sworn to before me at Jefferson, N.C., this
2d day of April, 1908

J. Edward Tylor
Assistant to Special Commissioner
Court of Claims

First, this John Riddle was born c1863 and lived in Ashe County, North Carolina and later in Johnson County, Tennessee, where he died on 13 January 1944.

My reader was able to connect their grandparent to this John Riddle through family and census records, but was unable to move back before John.

Here is a young John living with the Grayball family in 1870. Note that he is enumerated as black:

John Riddle, 1870

John’s father, William Riddle was located in the 1850 census of Ashe County, North Carolina living with his apparent mother and siblings. The Riddles were all enumerated as mulatto.

This Riddle family had been residents of Ashe County for some time, as seen by the census records. It probably isn’t possible to move further back in time because there are no Riddles in Ashe County in 1840 and the surname is very, very common in that area of North Carolina and Virginia.

John Riddle did state that he was related to the Sizemore family, but didn’t know how. There are two Sizemore families in Ashe County in 1840 and one in Johnson County, Tennessee, next door and just over the state line. Perhaps Sarah was a Sizemore?

My reader still has venues to research, using the FAN club.

If you believe you have a Cherokee ancestor, as always, begin with what you know and work backwards. If you hit a brick wall at the turn of the 20th century, be sure to search both the Dawes Roll and the Guion Miller Roll. You might find your proof!

52 Documents in 52 Weeks #7 – Court Record to Establish William Riddle’s Death

William Riddle was a Tory, reportedly hung at a spot called Riddle’s Knob (today – Rittle Knob), located along the Virginia-North Carolina frontier during the American Revolution. In the 1770s and early 1780s, Montgomery County extended all the way down to the North Carolina border. Rittle Knob, North Carolina is about 58 miles slightly southeast of Abingdon, Virginia.

William Riddle was born c1750, probably in Virginia or North Carolina and reportedly married Happy Rogers, daughter of Doswell Rogers. They had six children, born roughly between 1776 and 1783. Happy was born c1755.

Information about this family is difficult to come by, given the facts that they lived on the frontier and the American Revolution was happening all around them.

Neither Virginia nor North Carolina kept official birth or death records at this time, but probate records, often referenced in court minutes, were kept.

While trying to prove that William was a Tory who had been hung, I needed to prove that he died during the war. Fortunately, many of the earliest court minutes surviving for Virginia counties have been transcribed. Yes, viewing the original minutes is best, but when they can’t be accessed, published books can provided a satisfactory substitute.

FamilySearch actually has multiple microfilms under the title County Court order books 1773-1867, and General index to order books 1773-1855.

There were several mentions of the Riddle family in these court order books (Order Book #2 and Book B), which prove that William Riddle died before 6 April 1782, although his estate inventory wasn’t recorded until two years later, likely delayed because of the war.

April 3, 1782: “Ordered Captain Wm Love return Hoppe Riddle a cow he took from her in the year 1780 or the sum of five pounds in specie.”
April 8th 1782: John Riddle, an orphan of William Riddle of 7 yrs old to age of 21 to James Newell”
Further: James Riddle orphan of Wm. Riddle , to James McCorkle.” They were both ordered by the court to teach them reading, writing & Sypher and pay them the sum of 20 lbs. when they are 21.

After the close of the war, William’s estate was inventoried and appraised:

May 27, 1784
An inventory and appraisement of the estate of Wm Riddle deceased, taken April 24th 1784
4 ewes & three lambs——————————————–2–?
1 old mare —————————————————————–2
one small Improvement & Entry of land ————————15
1 ox4/two horses
1 grindstone 10/small feather bed ———————————–4-x0
1 old side saddle 20/one pair of sheep shears 2/6- –1–2.6, 25–11–6
At a Court held for Montgomery County May 27, 1784. the above inventory was returned to Court and ordered to be recorded
Test: James McCorkle

When standard death certificates don’t exist and probate packets are lost, be sure to check county court minutes. You might find that a court order book includes the pertinent details you are seeking.