Tag Archives: Mary Bandy

Mary Bandy Sturgell Wade Cookman Fouts – The Rest of the Story

The big clue that I picked up in the 1883 land deed that I found in Barry County, Missouri was the Mary Bandy Sturgell was now Mrs. Mary Cookman of Peoria County, Illinois.

A search of Illinois records found:

Benjamin Cookman, aged 33, married Mary Sturgell, aged 34 on 21 July 1877. Now if I had found this record before the land deed, I would have thought this was some other Mary Sturgell as an age of 34 puts her birth at 1843. Mary married Isaac in 1844! However, I also found them in the 1880 census of Kingston, Peoria County, Illinois.

However, the census record doesn’t tell the whole story either. Ben is now 41 years old, born in England and suffering from “cancer.” Mary, his wife, is now 44 years old (born 1836 – also not true) is also in the household along with daughter Mary Cookman, who is actually Mary Sturgell, the youngest known child of Isaac and Mary. “Son” George W. Cookman is not the child of Ben and Mary. Mary was past childbearing age – remember, she was actually born about 1828 – in spite of the age she told the census taker. George W. was the son of Isaac’s and Mary’s daughter, Mary. In later censuses, he is identified as the son of George Kingsley, who Mary married later in 1880. However, his true father’s name is unknown to me. Nothing about this family research project was ever simple and straight forward!

Mary Bandy Sturgell’s time with Ben was relatively short, as he died on 16 June 1885 in Peoria County at the Alms House, not from cancer, but from lupus.

His age of death is 52, giving a birth year of 1833. It also says he was born in New York, not England, and that he was single. In spite of all the differences with the other recorded facts about Ben, one thing is certain. He was very ill near the end of his life. Being a boatman, if he was that sick, he wouldn’t have been able to work and the family would have had no money coming in. Ben needed cared and he went to the Alms House to receive it. There he died and was buried.

Like Isaac, Mary appeared to like being married in spite of her past marriage troubles. The next record found brought up still more surprises:

Fouts-Cookman Marriage, 7 March 1889

Luckily for me, in the intervening years between Mary’s marriages to Ben Cookman and George J. Fouts, Illinois adopted a new marriage license form that had full life details on it. First, Mary’s age in 1889 was now 56, giving a birth year of 1833, while new husband George’s age was 62. In reality, Mary was about 61. Second, while this was George’s third marriage, Mary reported that it was her FOURTH marriage! Wait a minute, I’m missing a marriage somewhere. Lastly, Mary reported that her parents were Andrew Bandy and, while it is difficult to read the surname, Rebecca Wool(d)ri(d)ge. Here was proof of her parents! Another brick wall broken down. The Wooldridge family researchers were also very grateful to have proof that Rebecca Wooldridge married Andrew Bandy.

Now back to the fourth marriage bit. I have never to this day been able to find Mary Sturgell and daughters Amanda, Margaret and Mary in the 1870 census. I have searched through Arkansas, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. In fact, I have never found another record for Amanda after the 1860 census and have come to the conclusion that she died after 1860 but did not marry or leave children.

A check of Illinois marriage for Mary Sturgell turned up one record for Mary Sturgeon and William J. Wade on 12 January 1869 in Tazewell County, Illinois. Given that Tazewell County is next door to Peoria County, the 1869 date fits in between when Mary left Isaac and married Ben Cookman and Sturgell is often interchanged with Sturgeon, this could be Mary’s missing marriage. It also was short lived.

William J. Wade-Mary Sturgeon Marriage, 1869

Here is apparent widower William Wade in Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois with children born well before 1869, but no wife in the household.

William J. Wade married again to Elizabeth Jones on 8 October 1877, also in Tazewell County, Illinois.

The marriage record of Mary to George Jacob Fouts is the last record which I have found for her. George died on 26 November 1894 in Banner Twp., Fulton County, Illinois. An obituary and a funeral home record have been located:

George J. Fouts Obituary

GeorgeFoutsFuneralHomeRec_Page_1 GeorgeFoutsFuneralHomeRec_Page_2
Murphy-Sedgwick Memorial Home Record of George J. Fouts

Only one daughter is mentioned in George’s obituary. No death record, obituary or burial record has been found for Mary, nor have any further marriage records been located for her. It appears that she died sometime between 7 Mar 1889 and George’s death on 26 November 1894. She likely died in Peoria County, Illinois.

The Sturgell research project has been a wild ride. After initially believing that Isaac and Mary married, Mary died and Isaac remarried to Susannah Alberty and then died, I have uncovered a trail from Barry County, Missouri into multiple Arkansas counties and from Barry County to Peoria, Illinois. Along the way, I discovered daughter Mary born in 1861 and found a total of eight marriages between them. Now, if I could only find a few more records. . . !

Mary Bandy Sturgell Wade Cookman Fouts

Mary Bandy married Isaac Sturgeon/Sturgell on 27 June 1844 in Lawrence County, Ohio. I have only told part of her story. Here is a bit more about my husband’s 2x great grandmother.

Mary was born about 1828 in Symmes Township, Lawrence County, Ohio. Her age varies a bit in census records and there is no record of her birth. She was definitely quite young when she married and probably about sixteen years old. I do wonder if she was as young as fourteen because the first known child of Isaac and Mary was a daughter enumerated as M.J. in the 1850 census of Barry Couny, MIssouri. M.J. was two years old so born about 1847 or 1848. It is also possible that Mary lost a first, unknown child, who would have been born about 1845 or 1846.

Mary’s parents, like many others in the family tree, were a bit of a mystery. The Bandys were from Botetourt County, Virginia and there were quite a few of them. Candidates for Mary’s father were Andrew Bandy, who lived in Lawrence County, Ohio or his brother, George Bandy, who lived nearby in 1830 and in Gallia County, Ohio in 1840. Both Andrew and George had two females under five years of age in their 1830 households. I tended to believe that Andrew was her father because Isaac’s and Mary’s first son was Andrew Jackson Sturgell.

After I discovered that Mary didn’t die between 1860 and 1867, when Isaac married Susannah Douthit Alberty, I found proof of Mary’s parentage.

Mary’s life after she married Isaac was apparently not an easy life. He is my husband’s black sheep and was likely at best a difficult man. Isaac was somewhat of a rolling stone; Mary and children moved with him. From Lawrence County, Ohio in 1844, they moved to Barry County, Missouri. From there they migrated to somewhere in Texas where son Andrew Jackson was born. By 1855, they were back in Barry County. Their next three children were born in Arkansas where they were enumerated in 1860 in Benton County. Later records placed Isaac in Van Buren, Pope, Carroll and Boone Counties, Arkansas. Isaac was always on the move. (He eventually ended up back in Barry County, Missouri, where he died on 26 February 1909.)

I didn’t initially know about their youngest daughter, Mary, as she was born after the 1860 census and in the time period when I believed her mother, Mary, had died.

No divorce record has been found for Isaac and Mary, but it appears that Mary had had enough of Isaac after about 20 years. Travel was dangerous during the Civil War and, based on Isaac’s other marriages, he didn’t seem to like to be without a wife. For these reasons, I think Mary likely left Isaac and headed for Illinois at the close of the war, about 1865 or 1866. Isaac married Susannah Alberty in 1867.

Why did she go to Illinois? Because some of her siblings had removed from Ohio to the area around Peoria. Apparently, Isaac and Mary had worked out that she would take the girls, but the boys would remain with him. Isaac probably never knew what happened to his daughters as his obituary says his children were all dead. That wasn’t true – he outlived his sons, but at least two of his daughters – Margaret and Mary – survived him.

My “Aha!” moment for Mary came when I found this deed in the Barry County Courthouse:

Mary Sturgell Quit Claim
Quitclaim Deed, Peoria, IL

Mary hadn’t died between 1860 and 1867! Isaac knew that Mary had gone to her family in Illinois as Mrs. Mary Sturgell also known as Mrs. Mary Cookman quit claimed her rights to a piece of Isaac’s property on 7 June 1883. I don’t think he was very happy about having to pay her $25.00, even though he made a hefty profit, but I have other questions about this transaction.

I found two deeds in Isaac’s name for this property. Isaac Sturgell purchased the land from Jacob and Elizabeth Hurley on 11 Nov 1868, but was not recorded until 12 March 1883 in Carroll County, Arkansas. He paid $250.00 and was identified as a resident of Barry County. On 12 March 1883, Isaac sold the land to Calvin Prentice of Carroll County, Arkansas for $1000. Both Mary and Isaac signed their deeds with an “X.”

Here are my questions: 1. Isaac married Susannah Douthit Alberty on 30 September 1867 in Newton County, Missouri. He first bought this land on 11 November 1868. (Susannah accused Isaac of squandering the legacy she inherited from her late husband, John Alberty, and I suspect that the $250 used to purchase this land was part of that legacy.)

Susannah divorced Isaac in 1874. Why wasn’t she the one who filed the quit claim deed? That leads me to the supposition that, along with all his other less than desirable traits, perhaps Isaac was also a bigamist. Maybe Mary just left and they never divorced. How did these people in Arkansas know that Mary even existed if he was already married to Susannah when he bought the land? Perhaps he and Mary lived in Carroll County and these people were acquaintances. Even so, if he had divorced Mary and was legally married to Susannah, why didn’t he say that Susannah was his wife at the time of purchase and have her sign the quit claim deed? Of course, if Isaac and Mary never legally divorced, then Mary was also a bigamist, as we shall see.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story!