Tag Archives: Isaac Sturgell

GTT: Where in Texas Did Isaac Sturgell Live?

Gone to Texas!

I’ve written about my husband’s 2X great grandfather many times. Isaac Sturgell was a restless soul and, by all accounts, a difficult man with whom to live. After all, his wives – all four of them – left him and a grandchild remembered him as an angry old man who swatted the grandkids with a broom handle.

His restless nature is evident by all the places he called home, for at least a short time. Isaac was born in Virginia about 1823, probably in Grayson County. His father began the family migration to Ohio in the 1830s; Isaac’s mother reportedly died in or near Wythe County, Virginia in the late 1830s.

William settled his family in Lawrence County, Ohio, where Isaac married wife #1, Mary Bandy, on 27 June 1844. Mary was the mother of all of Isaac’s seven children.

By 1850, Isaac was living in Barry County, Missouri. Although he returned to Barry County more than once, he also lived in several Arkansas counties which were not far from the Missouri-Arkansas state lines.

The 1850 census shows Isaac, Mary and daughter M.J., aged 2 years, all born in Virginia. However, I doubt that is accurate as Mary’s family was in Ohio by the time she was supposedly born and baby M.J. was likely born either in Ohio or Missouri.

Their second child, Amanda, was born in Missouri, but it is the birthplace of their third child that intrigues me.

Andrew Jackson Sturgell was born in Texas, per the census records. That is probably accurate because of the birthplaces of their other children found in census records and supported by tax records:

M.J., born c1848, probably Ohio or Missouri
Amanda, born c1850, Missouri
Andrew Jackson, born 1853, Texas
Abijah Houston, born 4 March 1855, Barry County, Missouri
Margaret E., born 7 March 1857, Arkansas
George W., born April 1860, Benton County, Arkansas
Mary, born 9 May 1861, Arkansas

I’ve made several attempts to locate any mention of a Sturgell/Sturgill/Sturgeon in Texas in the early 1850s, but with no luck.

Texas was a big place, even in 1853, and was definitely the wild, wild West.

Arkansas can be seen in the upper right corner of the map, but it’s the southwestern corner. The Sturgells lived in the northwestern corner of the state and the southwestern corner of Missouri.

In that time period, it appears that the Shawnee Trail, also called the Texas Road or Emigrant Trail, would have been the most popular, and logical, route take by Isaac and his family into Texas. The trail began in Sedalia, Missouri and went in a southerly direction, passing through southwestern Missouri, cutting through Arkansas into Indian Territory (today, the southeastern area of Oklahoma) before crossing into Denison, Texas, continuing south through Fort Worth, all the way down to Indianola, Texas on the Gulf of Mexico.

Given that Isaac wasn’t traveling alone as an adventurer and had not only wife Mary, possibly daughter M.J. (who died before 1860) and daughter Amanda, but a son born in Texas, I think it can be said with some certainty that Isaac’s stay in Texas was somewhere along the Shawnee Trail and probably in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Isaac wasn’t a literate man, but he obviously heard stories about and admired Andrew Jackson, as he named his first son after the President.

I’ve also wondered how to interpret the clue in his second son’s name – Abijah Houston, who is my husband’s great grandfather. While it’s possible that Houston points to the Sturgells’ home in Texas, I tend to doubt that for one reason. Houston’s access point in the 1850s was much easier by waterways. However, those waterways made for difficult travel from southwestern Missouri. The Shawnee Trail was a much more direct way to go, particularly for a man with a young family in tow.

Instead, I believe that Abijah’s middle name was a nod to Sam Houston, a legend in Texas history.

Exactly how long did the Sturgells live in Texas? Well, all I can say is that they were in Barry County, Missouri on 29 August 1850 when the census taker knocked on the door and they were back living in Barry County on 4 March 1855 when Abijah was born there.

It would help if Andrew Jackson Sturgell had a birth or death record, but there is none to be found. He married his fourth wife on 2 July 1876 in Boone County, Arkansas and died before 17 June 1880, when the census taker came around. He is not found in the mortality schedule, either.

Isaac Sturgell was never a wealthy man. I think the family lived in barely comfortable means, if that. He was never taxed in Arkansas for more than a couple of pigs. He didn’t even own a horse and his Missouri land was acquired through the Homestead Act.

I tend to think he didn’t receive a land grant or purchase any land in Texas. He might have been drawn to the historical excitement in Texas, but finding life there unsatisfactory, he took the family back to Missouri.

It might be that the 1860 and 1870 census entries for A.J., as he was called, are the only extant pieces of evidence to tell the story of their Texas trip.

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!