Tag Archives: Isaac Sturgell

Unanswered Questions: Family of Isaac Sturgell of Barry County, MO, Part 2

Yesterday, I reviewed my unresolved questions concerning Isaac Sturgell and Mary Bandy, his first wife and mother of his seven known children.

Today, we will take a look at the offspring and what happened to each of them.


1. M.J., daughter, aged 2 in 1850. No further information has been found about this little girl.   It wouldn’t be unheard of for a girl to marry at age 12, but no marriage records have been found for her. This child’s name isn’t even known as the census taker only recorded her by her initials. Since she is not at home with her parents in 1860, she likely died young. Burying this little child was undoubtedly a heartache for Isaac and Mary.

2. Amanda, born c1850, probably Barry County, Missouri. Mary was probably heavily pregnant at the time of the 1850 census, as Amanda is aged 10 in 1860, when the family lived in Benton County, Arkansas. Amanda has not been found in the 1870 census and no marriage record, or any other mention of her, has been found in Arkansas, Missouri, Ohio or Illinois. I think she also died young.

3. Andrew Jackson – By 1853, Isaac and family migrated somewhere in Texas, where son Andrew, or A.J. or Jack, as he was also called,  was born. Four seemed to be the magic number for Sturgell marriages, as Andrew continued in his parents’ footsteps.

Andrew Jackson Sturgell married (1) Mary Elizabeth Towler, 23 February 1871, Barry County, Missouri. This marriage was a short one because Mary was back living in her parents’ home in 1880. She married (2) James Eagleson, 14 August 1890, Barry County, Missouri and died there in 1912.

Andrew Jackson Sturgell married (2) Delania E. M. Ketchum, 1 January 1874, Barry County, Missouri. Delania hasn’t been found before or after her marriage to Jack and he didn’t waste any time remarrying.

Question 8 – Did Delania and Jack divorce or did she die soon?

Andrew Jackson Sturgell married (3) Sarah J. Davis, 24 February 1875, Benton County, Arkansas. This was another short marriage with a disappearing wife. She hasn’t been found after her marriage date.

Question 9 – Did Sarah die soon or did they divorce/go their separate ways?

Andrew Jackson Sturgell married (4) Mary Catherine Turney, 2 July 1876, Boone County, Arkansas. In 1880, Mary C. Sturgel is back in her parents’ home in Boone County with the check mark in the widowed/divorced column. There are no Sturgell children with her. Jack Sturgell has not been found after his 1876 marriage. Catherine Sturgill married (2) M.C. Capps on 6 January 1901.

Andrew Jackson Sturgell had no known children.

Question 10 – Did Andrew Jackson Sturgell die between 2 July 1876 and 17 June 1880 when Mary was enumerated in the census or did he move on and hasn’t been found?

4. Abijah Houston Sturgell was born c1855 in Missouri, so the family’s sojourn to Texas didn’t last long. Houston might be a tribute to their time in that state. Whether they lived in the Houston area or Isaac was thinking of Sam Houston I don’t know.

Abijah is my husband’s great grandfather and the only one of the sons who lived a more settled life. However, his death was tragic.

Abijah Houston Sturgell married Martha Susannah Alberty, 5 June 1876, Newton County, Missouri. She was the daughter of his stepmother Susan (Douthit) Alberty, who had just divorced Isaac.

Abijah is the only Sturgell child who stayed put in Barry County. She and Martha seemed to have had a happy marriage and became the parents of 11 children. However, late in 1904, Abijah was in his barn when the oil lamp started a fire. Abijah was badly burned and there were several short items in the local newspaper stating that he was faring poorly. Months later, on 2 June 1905, Byge, as he was called, finally died from his burn injuries. He had to have suffered greatly.

5. Margaret E. Sturgell, the eldest known surviving daughter, was born 17 March 1857 in Arkansas, probably Benton County. Margaret, her mother Mary and sister Mary all removed to Peoria County, Illinois sometime before 1870.

Margaret E. Sturgell married (1) George Alder, 10 June 1873, Peoria County, Illinois. He died in 1900.

George and Margaret Alder were the parents of nine children.

Margaret Alder married (2) David Nickerson, 24 January 1909. Peoria County, Illinois. However, David Nickerson hasn’t been found in any record before or after this marriage and Margaret hasn’t been found in 1910 either.

Margaret Nickerson married (3) Jacob Riddle, date and place unknown. Jacob predeceased Margaret, passing away on 27 September 1928 in Tazewell County, Illinois.

Margaret Sturgell Alder Nickerson Riddle died 6 January 1929, Peoria, Peoria, Illinois.

Question 11 – Who was David Nickerson and where was he in 1900 and 1910? Where was Margaret Sturgell Alder Nickerson in 1910?

6. George W. Sturgell was born in April 1860 in Benton County, Arkansas, the youngest son of Isaac and Mary.

George W. Sturgell married (1) Caroline Holmes, 31 October 1878, Van Buren County, Arkansas. In 1880, George, Caroline and daughter Narcissa (born July 1879) were living in Pope County, Arkansas.

Narcissa was George’s only known child and it appears she may have died young.

Question 11 – What became of Caroline and Narcissa? Did both die young? The 1880 census is the only record in which they appear.

George W. Sturgell married (2) Hannah Tinney, 5 January 1886, Pope County, Arkansas. Was she a widow 40 years older than George???

Question 12 – Who was Hannah Tinney? The only person by that name living in Pope County, Arkansas is the wife of Nathan Tinney, born in 1820 in Ireland. Neither Nathan nor Hannah are found in the 1880 census. Did Nathan die and George then married an older widow with some property?

Question 13 – When and where did George W. Sturgell die? He hasn’t been found in any records after his 1886 marriage to Hannah.

7. Mary Sturgell, the last known child of Isaac and Mary, was born 19 May 1861 in Arkansas, probably Benton County. She also seems to have a more settled life than most of her other siblings.

Mary Sturgell married George Kingsley, 15 July 1880, Peoria County, Illinois.

Mary died 15 April 1920 in Peoria, Peoria, Illinois. She and George Kingsley were the parents of five children.

Therefore, Isaac was not without family, as his obituary stated. He survived by two daughters and 25 grandchildren, with 11 of the grandkids living right in Barry County, Missouri.

To conclude, I have looked at vital records, land deeds, tax lists, probate files, historical newspapers and any other pertinent record that I can find for the Sturgell family.

Given that they lived in multiple counties spread over five states and Isaac, Mary and their five adult children married a grand total of 19 times, hunting for clues and answers to my elusive questions has been a time-consuming job.

I’m not giving up, though, and perhaps time will be on my side and some new records will appear. I’ve only been working on this family for 30 years. . . . .


Unanswered Questions: Family of Isaac Sturgell (1823-1909) of Barry County, MO, Part 1

I make it a habit to return to branches of the family tree which have been ignored for quite some time. One of ancestors in those branches is Isaac Sturgell, my husband’s 2X great grandfather through his mother, Ruby Sturgell Stufflebean.

Most of what is found online about Isaac relate to records that I first found back in the pre-internet days when many letters were written and microfilms were read.

In spite of all that I have pieced together about Isaac through the years, I still have many unanswered questions about the Sturgells.

So, exactly what unresolved questions do I have? As I meander through this family, I will be inserting my many questions along the way.

First, let me present the very extended family of Isaac Sturgell/Sturgill/Sturgeon. They were experts at two activities – getting married and moving!

Isaac Sturgell was born c1823, probably in Grayson County, Virginia. Recorded as Isaac Sturgeon, he married Mary Bandy on 27 June 1844 in Lawrence County, Ohio. The Bandy family was also from Virginia, but lived in Botetourt County.

The only Sturgeon/Sturgell living in Lawrence County, Ohio at the time of the 1840 census was William Sturgeon, who was of an age to be Isaac’s father and he had a male in his home born in the 1820s. William Sturgill/Sturgeon has been documented on tax lists in Grayson County, Virginia and is one of the children of Francis Sturgill, Revolutionary War soldier of Ashe County, North Carolina and Rebecca Hash.

The name of William Sturgill’s first wife is unknown, but he married (2) Catherine Elizabeth (Yingling) Brown, 12 March 1839, Lawrence County, Ohio.

Question 1 – Who was William Sturgill’s first wife, likely the mother of all his children? Family lore says Sophia King, daughter of a doctor from Newport, Rhode Island, but I haven’t found a shred of documentary evidence to support the story.

Question 2 – When and where did William Sturgill die? He last appears in a land deed on 27 June 1844. Catherine is living with an adult son’s family in 1850. Family lore says William died in a sawmill accident in “Arkansas or Missouri.”

Isaac Sturgion and Mary (Bandy) were living in Barry County, Missouri by the 1850 census with two year old daughter M.J. Place of birth for all three is listed as Virginia, but it is more likely that their daughter was born in Ohio. This family constatly moved, but I have found no evidence that they ever returned to Virginia after their families moved to Ohio.

There are NO other families with ties to Ohio living anywhere near them in Barry County.

Question 3 – Why did Isaac Sturgell choose to settle in Barry County?

Isaac’s reputed brother, Alvin Sturgill, born c1815, North Carolina, was living in Lawrence County, Ohio in 1850, but in Nodaway County, Missouri by 1860, where he died in 1904.

Here’s where the people and records multiply.

Isaac Sturgell married (2) Susannah Douthit Alberty, 30 September 1867, Newton County, Missouri. I initially thought that Mary Bandy Sturgell died between the 1860 census and this marriage. That is, I believed it until I found a quit claim land deed filed in the Peoria, Illinois County Courthouse and recorded in Barry County, Missouri when I researched in the Barry County Courthouse.

It proved that Mary Bandy Sturgell left Isaac and took their daughters with her. Their sons remained with Isaac. More on Mary in a minute, but this quit claim proves that Isaac both knew where Mary was living and how to contact her.

Also in the Barry County Courthouse was the divorce packet for Susannah, who accused Isaac of not providing for his and her children and for bringing strange women to the home and providing for them! She also accused Isaac of squandering the small estate left by her first husband, John Alberty. They divorced in 1875.

Isaac Sturgell married (3) Nancy R. Fields, 27 April 1876, Boone County, Arkansas. This marriage was short lived, as I found Nancy in the 1880 census, but no Isaac around.

Question 4 – Did Isaac and Nancy divorce or did he just go on his way? Boone County Chancery Court records include many divorce petitions, but none was found for this couple.

Isaac Sturgell married (4) Nancy P. Hensley, 1 August 1877, Pope County, Arkansas. This marriage didn’t last either, as Nancy is found in 1880 in Pope County, but no Isaac around.

Question 5 – Did Isaac and Nancy divorce, or did Isaac just walk away?

Isaac Sturgell seemed to have had enough of marriage after wife #4. He returned to Barry County, Missouri where he died in February 1909 at the county farm (the poorhouse). His obituary said all his children had died, but that wasn’t true about some of his daughters. It seems he had no contact with his girls and those who knew him at the end of his life had no idea that Isaac had children and grandchildren who survived him. I can’t help but think he lived a very unhappy life.

Mary Bandy Sturgell had her own rocky life after she and the girls left Isaac and settled in Peoria, Illinois, near where her siblings had settled after they left Ohio.

Mary Sturgion married (2) William J. Wade, 12 January 1869, Tazewell County, Illinois. This marriage was a short one, as William and children are found in 1880, but Mary and the girls are not with him.

Question 6 – Did Mary and William Wade divorce or did they just move on?

Mary Sturgell married (3) Benjamin Cookman, 28 July 1877, Peoria County, Illinois. Ben died of lupus in 1885.

Mary Cookman married (4) George Jacob Fouts, 7 March 1889, Peoria County, Illinois. George died in 1894, but his obituary makes no mention of any surviving widow and Mary hasn’t been found in any record after this marriage date.

Question 7 – When and where did Mary Bandy Sturgell Wade Cookman Fouts die?

If your head is spinning over these eight marriages, hold on because we are just getting started!

Isaac and Mary (Bandy) Sturgell were the parents of eight children, who had their own sagas to tell. Tomorrow, we will look at even more unanswered questions about this family.

I have to admit there is not one single other family in my ancestral tree that has so many loose ends!




Update on Isaac Sturgell: A Brick Wall Every Step of the Way

Isaac Sturgell, who was the recent subject of 52 Documents in 52 Weeks, has been a particularly difficult person to trace. The first reason is simple enough – Sturgell is found as Sturgill, Sturgeon, Stodghill and who knows with what other spelling. That’s an easy enough workaround once you realize that’s the case. Isaac is mostly found as Sturgell/Sturgill and Sturgeon.

The second reason is that the man never sat still. He literally walked all through the Ozark Mountains. According to tax records, he was never taxed for personal property amounting to more than a few pigs – no horses at all.

It’s only been through the addition of accessible records that I’ve been able to track him. If he was asked to list every place he’s lived on a job application, he’d need two pages:

c1823 – Born in Virginia, probably Grayson County
1844 – Isaac Sturgeon married (1) Mary Bandy in Lawrence County, Ohio
1850 – Isaac and Mary Sturgeion living in Barry County, Missouri
1860 – Isaac Stigall living in Benton County, Arkansas with family
1867 – Married Susannah Alberty in Newton County, Missouri
1870 – Living in Barry County, Missouri
1875 – 12 June, Divorced in Barry County, Missouri
1876 – 27 April – Married Nancy Fields in Boone County, Arkansas
1876 – 30 November – Applied for land under Homestead Act in Barry County, Missouri
1877 – 1 August – Married Nancy Hensley in Pope County, Arkansas
1880 – MIA for the census (Conway County, Arkansas??? See below.)
1883 – Quit claimed land in Barry County, Missouri
1900 – MIA for the census
1902-onwards – Barry County, Missouri county farm (poor house) where he died on 26 February 1909

A long time ago, I found an Isaac Sturgeon living in Conway County, Arkansas in the 1880 census. I wrote him off because his occupation was “physician.” My Isaac was illiterate and never seemed to have more than two nickels to rub together, if even that.

As his second wife accused him of squandering the small inheritance she had from her first husband, it seemed more likely that he was a con man, given all of his marriages.

However, I’ve come to a different conclusion now. I think that this man is my Isaac for several reasons:

First, this Isaac Sturgeon, although at 62 a bit older than my Isaac and reportedly born in Missouri, is boarding in a household. If the wife gave the information to the census taker, she might have known that Isaac had ties to Missouri and she may have guessed at his age. I’m not sure Isaac knew exactly how old he was – he might have reported the wrong age. Isaac the physician doesn’t own any property of his own, at least not that he’s living on.

Second, he was in Conway County, Arkansas. The last documented fact for my Isaac before the census was his 1877 marriage to Nancy Hensley in Pope County, Arkansas. Take a look at the map:

Red Arrows: Isaac or his sons lived there

The red arrows indicate all the counties where Isaac and/or two of his sons lived. They did a good job of covered northwest Arkansas. Conway County is the county in the bottom right corner with the arrow pointing upward. Bordering Conway on the west is POPE County, which is where he married Nancy Hensley. (By the way, both Nancys – Fields and Hensley – are found living with other family members in the 1880 census, so they left and/or divorced Isaac in short order.)

Next, here is the census entry for Nancy Hensley, who reverted to her previous married name of Tredwell after she left Isaac.

Nancy was a midwife! Perhaps that’s how she met Isaac. If he had any medical knowledge at all, it must have been mountain medicine learned by necessity.

Lastly, if Isaac Sturgeon was a 62 year old physician, I would expect him to appear in one or more censuses back to 1850. The 1880 census is the one and only census appearance for this man, unless he is my Isaac.

As for the 1900 census, newspaper notices account for Isaac living at the county farm as early as 1902. I suspect he was already living there in 1900, but the county farm may well have been omitted from the census enumeration because I have looked page by page for it to no avail.

What do you think? Am I on the right track thinking that Isaac Sturgeon, physician, is really my black sheep Isaac Sturgell?