Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Nancy Ellen Easterday Clouse, Part 1

While researching Wlliam Siverly, husband of Nancy Tapscott, a Wabash Valley Tapscott, I encountered his nephew John B. Siverly. And with John, came a mystery.

We know a lot about John B., though we have no documented proof that his middle name was “Benjamin,” as claimed by some. John B. Siverly was born 14 Oct 1860 in Anderson Twp, Clark County, to Jacob and Elizabeth (Fuller) Siverly. On 16 Jun 1889, John and Lucinda H. McKenzie were married. But the married rapidly disintegrated, lasting only long enough to produce a son, Robert Franklin Siverly, born 25 Mar 1890. Lucinda (“Cindy”), who never remarried and went back to the name “McKenzie,” died on 5 Dec 1919. Robert died just months later, on 17 Jun 1920 at age 30, leaving a wife and four children. But enough about Lucinda and Robert, who play, at best, minor roles in our mystery.

On 29 Oct 1895 in Clark County, John B., now presumably divorced from Lucinda, married Nancy Ellen Clouse. The couple had four sons—George Franklin, Clarence Douglas, Ernest, and Harold Leslie. Then on 9 Jul 1909, after less than fifteen years of marriage and three days after giving birth to Herman, Nancy died. The two older boys stayed with John; the two younger boys were farmed out to Siverly relatives.

And who was the now expired Nancy Ellen (Clouse) Siverly? Though she appears to have been born in Mar 1880, she is not found in the 1880 census, which has an official date of 1 Jun. But her birth date may be a little off or she may have been omitted because she was just weeks old, perhaps with a questionable survivability. Unfortunately, for all practical purposes, there are no 1890 census records. Thus, we first see Nancy in a census in 1900, only after she had married John Siverly.

At first it seems likely that Nancy was a daughter of Moses and Pina Ann (Plunkett) Clouse. Pina’s obituary states that she had nine children, five girls and four boys. But we find only eight children named in censuses, and only four girls. A daughter is missing. And the number of living children claimed by Pina decreased by one between the 1900 and 1910 census, before and after the death of Nancy Ellen Siverly. Thus, everything fits together.

Or does it? When Nancy’s son Clarence applied for a marriage license in 1926, he gave the “Full Christian and maiden name” of his mother as “Nancy Easterday.” And when son Ernest married, also in 1926, he gave his mother’s name as “Nancy Easterday.” And when Harold died in 2000, his obituary stated that he was born in Clark County to “John L. and Nancy Easterday Siverly.” Could Nancy have actually been an Easterday with “Clouse” her name from a previous marriage? The answer is almost certainly no. Her death record show that "Clouse" was her maiden name. Moreover, born in 1880, Nancy was only fifteen years old when she married John. There was insufficient time for an earlier marriage.

So, who was Nancy Ellen Easterday Clouse?

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Sanders Connection

Marion County (STATSIndiana).

While attempting to interpret some autosomal DNA results for Tapscotts and Wrights I encountered a complication. The name “Sanders” kept popping up. So I spent several days researching Sanders family members with Tapscott connections.

Sanderses (that’s right, you make a plural of a name ending in “s” by adding “es”) are abundant in any history of the Wabash Valley Tapscotts. And most were descendants of a single couple, Francis and Mary (“Polly”) Sanders of Marion County, Indiana.

Born in Virginia, Christmas Day, 1775, Francis Sanders moved to Adams County, Ohio. There, on 11 Oct 1811, he married “Polly” Mackey, born “Mary H.” in 1784 in Pennsylvania. After having five known children, Joseph, James, Charles, Sarah Ellen, and Francis Jr. in Ohio, Francis and Mary moved to Marion County, Indiana, around 1820. There, in Perry Township, they had four more children, William, Peter, Henry W., and Thomas.

Francis and Mary spent over fifty years farming in Perry Township. During that time Sanderses (and a few Tapscotts) flowed back and forth between Marion County, Indiana, and Clark County, Illinois. Joseph and Sarah Ellen settled in Clark County. James, Francis Jr., William, and Henry W. were married there (William to a Tapscott girl), though all four returned to Marion County afterwards (Francis Jr. eventually came back to Clark County). And Charles probably passed through Clark County on his way to Missouri, stopping long enough to acquire a Tapscott son-in-law. Four children of Francis and Mary Sanders  William, Sarah Ellen, Charles, and Joseph  ended up with Clark County Tapscott connections. And what initiated this rapport between the Marion County Sanderses and Clark County, Illinois? I have no idea.
Francis Sanders marker
(Find A Grave)

Tapscott/Sanders connections with many, many, many siblings, sons, and daughters omitted.

Francis died 23 Jan 1874 at the grand old age of 98 (if you believe his gravestone) and was laid to rest under an impressive marker in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Greenwood, Indiana. Mary lived a few years longer, during which time her son Joseph Sanders and his family came back from Clark County to run the farm. She died 25 Oct 1883 at age 99 or so (amazing in that era for someone who bore at least nine children) and was also interred in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, with a lesser and nearly illegible marker.

And the effect of Sanderses on DNA interpretation? That is the subject of a post at the Wrights of the Wabash Valley blog site.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Spencer Case

In 1939 Marshall, Illinois, was the site of the “celebrated Spencer robbery case.”

The tale of the Spencer Case starts with the marriage of Georgia Josephine Spencer to William Woodrow Rease (also “Reece,” “Reese”) in Detroit, Michigan, around Jan 1936. Georgia had been born on 6 Jun 1912 in Clark County, Illinois, to Martha E. (Siverly) and Carroll Elmer Spencer. Since Martha (usually called “Mattie”) was a daughter of Nancy Tapscott, Georgia was a great granddaughter of Henry the Traveler and a fourth-generation Clark County “Tapscott.”

What Georgia was doing in Michigan, where she married, we don’t know, but William and Georgia ended up back in the Marshall area, where Georgia’s now-divorced mother Mattie was living.

On 13 Jan 1939 Marshall’s tranquility was broken. For two or three nights before that date, Mattie Spencer thought she had seen prowlers around her home. Then on the night of the 12th a brick was thrown through a window. Becoming alarmed, Mattie went to the home of her daughter and son-in-law the next evening along with several thousand dollars which she kept in her house. Mattie did not believe in banks and was known to take her savings with her when she traveled.

About 7:30 that evening (the 13th) William Rease went to the back of his house to throw out a pan of water. He claimed that someone slugged him while he was outside and then went into the house and severely beat his wife, Georgia, and mother-in-law, Mattie. Taking Mattie Spencer’s purse, filled with money and resting in her lap, the robbers had fled.

Police cracked the case when they observed someone connected with the family was spending large amounts of money. That someone turned out to be William Rease. Knowing that his mother-in-law kept a large amount of unbanked cash, William, it was claimed, had gathered a group of conspirators and had planned the robbery. Following the theft, the gang had divided their proceeds in a Terre Haute nightclub and had then decamped. William was arrested in Madisonville, Kentucky. Nine more suspects (not all guilty) were arrested, at places as far away as Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Marshall, Illinois, courthouse, site of the
1939 Spencer Case trials (2011, Wikipedia).
In March 1939, a Marshall grand jury brought indictments ranging from accessory to burglary to assault to robbery with a dangerous weapon against seven individuals. (Forrest Tapscott, Georgia’s second cousin, was one of the jurors.) Four men were eventually sentenced to a penitentiary term of 1 to 20 years. One of the four was William Rease, who had pleaded guilty. Two more suspects, who “had some connection with the robbing,” were given one year’s probation.

On 2 May 1939, citing her husband's felony as grounds, Georgia was granted a divorce from William Rease. Georgia went on to own and operate the East Marshall Motel (a collection of green-roofed and white-walled cabins that opened in 1950) for more than forty-years. She died two months shy of age 93 on 28 Mar 2005 near Marshall. What became of William, we don’t know.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Robert Francis Tapscott, Revisited

Over the years this blog has often brought up the mystery of Robert Francis Tapscott (see, in particular, the posting of 26 Jul 2014). The second edition of my book Henry the Immigrant, the First Tapscotts of Virginia, contains the following page about Robert:

This information remains essentially correct (though the birth name of Lucy Frances Wood’s mother may have been “Kirk” rather than “Kirtley”). We are still searching for Robert Francis Tapscott's origins. But thanks to DNA, we may be getting closer to an answer.

First, yDNA results for a descendant of Robert Francis Tapscott show conclusively that Robert Francis is not a descendant of Henry Tapscott, the Immigrant, by an all-male line. The name “Tapscott” may have come from Robert Francis’s mother, but apparently not his father. In fact, the DNA results provide extremely strong evidence that Robert’s father (or possibly his paternal grandfather, etc.) was a Holder. The male descendant shows strikingly close matches to many Holder descendants — genetic distances as close as 3 for 111 markers and 1 for 67 markers.

Second, two descendants of Robert Francis Tapscott show close autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Elizabeth Percifull (abt 1790 – abt 1855), daughter of Elijah Percifull of Lancaster County, Virginia. (See posts of 13 Jan 2015, 15 Jan 2013, 17 May 2013, 13 Mar 2014, 30 Mar 2014, 21 Jul 2016, 19 Oct 2016.)

Third, I have been working with an individual who is attempting to identify his paternal line. He shows an excellent yDNA match with the male descendant of Robert Francis and close matches with Holders. But he also shows an autosomal match with a descendant of Jenny Perciful/Percifull, who was married in Lancaster County, Virginia in 1805. With the right name and living in the right place at the right time, Jenny could well be a relative of Elijah and Elizabeth Percifull.

                              What does all this mean?
Robert Frances Tapscott Marker, Old
Chapel Cemetery, Clarke Co, Virginia.

Elizabeth Percifull was the wife of James E. Tapscott, son of Ezekiel and grandson of Edney. Of particular importance is that Elizabeth and James lived in Fauquier County, Virginia, where, according to his marriage record, Robert Francis Tapscott had lived. James E. is known to have been deceased by 23 Jun 1817, but could have died as early as 1812. After James’s death Elizabeth continued to use her married name and bore several illegitimate children, who were given the name “Tapscott.” Elizabeth’s known children, born (presumably) after James’s death, had birthdates between 1814 and 1820, near that of Robert Francis, who was born in 1817. It is not at all unlikely that Robert Francis Tapscott was a child of Elizabeth and a male by the name of “Holder,” several of whom were living in Fauquier County at the time. This would explain the DNA results.

What is needed now is a good paper trail genealogical study to connect the Holders of Fauquier County to the Holders showing yDNA matches to Robert Francis Tapscott’s descendant. The results of such a study may allow the identification of one or more individuals who could be Robert’s father.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Two Nancys of Kentucky

Hi, Tapscott history aficionados -

Despite a dearth of Tapscott family blogs, I have not abandoned family history research. I’ve just been working day and night writing The Tapscotts of the Wabash Valley, a book covering Henry and Susan (Bass) Tapscott and their descendants. Unfortunately there are many, many descendants. Planned for inclusion are detailed biographies on four generations - 210 descendants and 191 spouses - with names and some limited data provided for a fifth generation (another 253 descendants). Several months' work have allowed the lines of Henry and Susan’s four oldest children (William, John, James, and Thomas) to be “biographized,” but there are eight more lines to go. Nancy Tapscott, Henry and Susan’s fifth child and oldest daughter, has now been reached.

A large number of family trees on the internet confuse the Wabash Valley Nancy with her cousin Nancy of Casey County, Kentucky. This is understandable since the two Nancy Tapscotts were both born in Kentucky and have similar birth, marriage, and death dates. But their histories are quite different.

Photo by Ritch Fuhrer

Photo by Ritch Fuhrer
The Wabash Valley Nancy was born in Green County, Kentucky, around 1835, to Henry and Susan (Bass) Tapscott, married farmer William Siverly on 29 Feb 1856 in Clark County, Illinois, and, after giving birth to twelve children, died sometime between 1880 and 1900, probably in Clark County. Her crude grave marker in Clark County’s Shad Cemetery (also known as Siverly or Shotts Cemetery) gives her name, but no dates. Though badly deteriorated, her husband’s marker in that cemetery is more informative.

Photo from Find A Grave

The other Nancy was born in Casey County, Kentucky on 22 Dec 1836 to William Stewart and Rhoda Jane (Coppage). There she married blacksmith George W. Coffman on 23 Dec 1852 and, after raising five children, died on 8 Nov 1914 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. George and Nancy’s gravestone in Middleburg Cemetery, Casey County, is almost illegible, but her name is clear.

Some trees erroneously show the Nancy born in Green County as marrying George Coffman, others show the Nancy of Casey County marrying William Siverly, and several show a single Nancy marrying both George and William. Moreover, several trees claim that Nancy traveled to Clark County and then back to Kentucky to die. I doubt that this blog will result in corrections, but hope springs eternal. Contact me for reliable, contemporary sources for the brief biographies shown above, or for more detailed histories.

But I must get back to writing about Nancy of the Wabash valley, whose line is comprised of 71 people (descendants and spouses) scheduled for biographies. Perhaps I should consider multiple volumes.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Susie Bell Tingley

Three past posts (6/25/2015, 9/13/2015, 9/14/2015) have discussed that infamous Clark County, Illinois, scallywag, Samuel Tapscott. We know of Samuel's demise, on 15 Jun 1903, of “concussion of brain” under mysterious circumstances. But what happened to his wife, Susan? We still don’t know everything, but we know more than we once did.

Susan Tingley was born around 1856 give or take a couple of years to John Hacket and Hannah Emeline (Wallen) Tingley, probably in Indiana. The family of ten (or more) children settled and farmed in Anderson Twp, Clark County, giving Susan and Samuel Tapscott ample opportunity to meet.

Susan’s middle initial is given as “C” in her 1876 marriage record and as “M” in a less reliable newspaper article. Since she was often called “Bell” or “Belle” or even “Susie Bell,” it is not at all unlikely that her middle name was “Corabelle.”

In 1879 a “Susan Tapscott” purchased land in Auburn Twp from James W. Tapscott (Samuel’s brother) for $600 and then in 1882 sold the same land back to him for $150. This was almost certainly Susan, wife of Samuel, though where she got $600 for the initial purchase and why she sold the identical land back at a loss is unknown. In 1880 Susan (Tingley) Tapscott, along with her siblings, inherited land from her father’s estate, land that today is part of Lincoln Trails State Park.

Susan had a hard life, at least once she met Samuel. Samuel was not only a threat to others, he was cruel to his family. According to family members, one daughter, Viola Jane, was crippled by Samuel, who swung her by her leg to the floor when he became angry while putting on her shoes. The leg had to be amputated and Viola lived out her life with an artificial leg.

Another daughter, probably Maria, died in 1898, when she threw herself in front of a train in Terre Haute. According to family tradition, she was pregnant and unmarried, but certainly her unhappy childhood contributed.

An 1884 Terre Haute newspaper article tells of Samuel’s viciousness:

MARSHALL, Ills, July 13. The wife of Samuel Tabscott, a brutal character living in Anderson township, came to town the latter part of the week with two of her children whom she said she had stolen away from her husband. He is in the habit of beating his wife and children with anything that comes to hand. The woman showed the strips made on the back of one of the children, a little girl. They looked like they had been made with a heavy strap. The woman said that the other two children were with their father but that she meant to get them also away from him as he maltreated them shamefully. He was arrested for the crime of wife beating several years ago. He is a rather dangerous character, and all the neighbors are afraid of him, hence will not do anything to prevent his brutality.

We do not know when Susan died. In 1895 Susan gave permission for her daughter Estelle (”Stella”) to marry in Edgar County, but on his 1903 death certificate, Samuel is listed as a widower. Though this seems to indicate that Susan died between those two years, death certificates are untrustworthy. One would not be surprised to find that Susan disappeared not owing to death, but because she changed her name and residence to escape a terrible life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I just heard from Gregory Tapscott, that Selby William Tapscott passed away Tuesday, 9 Jan 2018. Born 27 Jun 1930 to Samuel Selby and Daisy (Lofty) Tapscott, “Pickles” was the GGG grandson of James E. and Elizabeth (Percifull) Tapscott, and thus, the GGGG grandson of Ezekiel Tapscott.

With a deep interest in and love for friends and family, he was heavily involved in family history, which he enjoyed immensely. As the unofficial switchboard for Fauquier County Tapscott news, "Pickles" put himself in charge of distributing, receiving, compiling, and digesting items of interest to the family. In the words of Greg,

“One major family historian has gone on to be an ancestor.”