Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Solving the Mystery of Mary Russell's Father

Last month I wrote two blog posts with questions about proving lineage for the DAR. The first was about John SHEPHERD, who I don't trust, but maybe he was actually telling the truth. I have sent to the DAR for a record copy of John's lineage through his son James (my ancestor). Hopefully this file will clear up some of my questions about proving this lineage.

The second post was about Mary RUSSELL and her father Moses RUSSELL. I have been struggling with making sense of the dates in this family for a few months.

Mary was born 4 April 1783, according to a tombstone erected many years after her death.

Moses RUSSELL married Mehitable Esther NOLAN/NOLAND in 1785, according to West Virginia records and Esther's widow's Revolutionary War pension file.

The pension file also includes a bible entry for the births of Moses and Esther's children, but does not include Mary.

I knew something was going on with this family, but I could never figure out what. I knew that I needed to do more research.

Then I got a comment on my blog post about Mary and Moses. According to this cousin (who heard it from another cousin), Mary was NOT Moses RUSSELL's daughter. She was actually the illegitimate daughter of Mehitable Esther NOLAN and Colbert ANDERSON.

In 1783, Mary's mother went to court to get her daughter legally recognized as Colbert's daughter. Colbert was fined and had to pay support for 3 years.

Now I just need to get ahold of the court documents for this case in Berkeley county, Virginia (now West Virginia). I have not received a source citation for this from my cousin. I also contacted the original poster of this information and she can't find the source either. So I guess I will have to figure out which of the FHL court films I need to verify this information.

Even without the documentation of this court case, the life of Mary, Esther and Moses makes more sense to me. When Esther and Moses were married, Moses raised Mary and she took his name. Moses was the only father she knew and it would have been passed down through the family that he was her father. Who even knows if Mary knew the entire story of her birth?

If anyone has a suggestion of which court would have these records in Berkeley county, (West) Virginia in 1783, leave a comment or send me an email to genwishlist@gmail.com.

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