Branscomb/Branscum Genealogy

The Genealogy of
Richard Branscomb
of Brunswick County, Virginia,
and a Number of his Descendants


by Fred Tubbs


 

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David Branscomb, son of John and Olive E. Branscomb

The line of descent for David Branscomb is:

David’s grandfather named only four of his children in his will, thereby leaving at least a very small possibility that the other children named Branscomb who were closely allied to those four were not his children. David’s father compounded the doubt when he, too, named only a fraction of his children in his will. It is logical to assume that children who had grown to adulthood had already received from their parents land and resources that might otherwise be bequeathed in wills. It is also known that numerous children upon reaching maturity, marrying, and seeking land for themselves, left their parents’ homes to move further west where land was available at either minimal cost or merely by filing claims with the local governments. Whatever the case, it appears highly likely that David’s parents were John and Olive, even though no record has been found to prove the matter. If not them, then who?? In this account I consider David to be the sixth child of John and Olive.

The available records for the year of David’s birth are mixed: The family had moved from Greensville County, Va., to Patrick County, on the western border of Virginia, in late 1798. The census records show that David was born in Virginia, so he was probably born in Greensville Co. and was an infant at the time of the move to Patrick County. Later records support a DOB of 1795, and the DOB of his next brother Edmund was 1798, so the 1795 DOB for David is quite likely the correct year, although one census record shows it as 1800.

The story for the availability of the Tellico land tract in 1805 is told in the account for David’s parents John and Olive. By 1810 their two oldest sons Thomas and Roland “Bransom” were listed on the census; the 1811 tax rolls for Wayne Co., Ky. showed their surname as “Branscomb.” We can only speculate as to why John’s name does not appear on the tax rolls until 1812, but at least by that time all of the family was there.

By 1815 John had received a patent for land on the Little South Fork of the Cumberland River, and he built a mill using water power. It was at least a lumber mill but may have also encompassed a grist mill; a least a grist mill was involved after John’s death and his son Isaac became the owner. It is likely that David and his younger brother Edmund, presumably still unmarried and living at home, were involved in the construction and the operation of the mill.

David’s name shows on the Wayne County tax rolls first in 1819, meaning that he was at least 21 years of age and eligible to vote. He was taxed for one horse, and in 1822 he was taxed for two horses. The 1820 census shows that he had married and that both he and his wife were between the ages of 16 and 26; also that they had a child younger than five years of age. Prior to 1850 the decennial censuses gave the names only of the heads of households, so it is not until then did we learn that David’s wife was named “Polly,” which was the standard nickname for “Mary,” and that she was born in Kentucky circa 1797. One record, still unconfirmed but highly likely, states that she was born in Wayne County.

Before 1820 the area where the Branscomb family had settled was divided into two districts. David and his family lived in District One, and the families of his father John and his brother Thomas lived in District Two. In the census records for 1820, all three families were listed on the same page (p. 99): Thomas on line 27, David on line 29 and John on line 31.

David obtained a land patent in 1822. On 24 June 1819 a neighbor, James Lasley, bought two land patents at $5.00 each, and on 17 October 1819 the county surveyor James Jones surveyed the fifty acres of land that were specified in the patents. 0n 19 September 1822 Lasley conveyed the patents and the certificate of survey to David Branscomb. The known records do not show the cost to David. A year passed before Governor John Adair awarded the grant to David, but customarily the purchaser would begin to use the property–and pay taxes-- as soon as the patents were filed. David’s tax bill for 1823 included tax for the land.

David and Polly retained ownership of the fifty acres for only three years. On 25 November 1826 they sold the land to Sherwood Kidd (Deed Book 3, p. 304 ). David’s father had died, and David’s brothers were caring for their mother. We can speculate that David and Polly felt that they could do better by moving further westward as new land became available at minimum cost. They remained in Wayne County for some months after the sale–long enough to be billed for taxes on three horses in 1827. On 13 October 1827 they received letters of dismissal from Wayne County’s Baptist Church of Concord.

The next known record for David and his family is thirteen years later, from the 1840 census for Johnson County, Illinois (p. 404). That census record discloses that David and his family had spent at least a large part of those thirteen years in Indiana–at least three of their children were shown as being born there. Given that the parents received in October 1827 their letters of dismissal from their church in Wayne County, Ky., it is likely that they arrived in Indiana in late 1827 or early 1828. A lengthy search of evidence for their stay in Indiana has been unsuccessful; they have not yet been located in the 1830 census nor in any other records. Records for a Branscom family in Henry County, Ind., showed the marriage of two daughters, one in 1832 and one in 1844, but they did not match the daughters of David and Polly. A Branscomb family lived in Mississinnewa in Delaware County, but again the census data does not match the records for David and his family. The search continues.

Beginning circa 1830 a number of Branscombs and related families moved from Wayne County, Ky., to the southern portion of Illinois, principally Johnson County, but also to Union and Pope Counties. Illinois had been a state since 1818, but land was available for homesteaders, whereas states further to the east offered fewer opportunities. For whatever reason David and Polly had chosen to go to Indiana, in time they chose to move once more and thereby to rejoin numerous relatives in Illinois. The 1840 census record for the family in Johnson County, Illinois, provides little information except to show the approximate ages of the members of the family:

  Males Females Probable identities (not from census)
Persons age 40-50 1 1 David and Mary/Polly
Persons age 20-30 1 0 John, age 22
Persons age 15-20 1 1 Daniel, age ca. 17; Sarah, age 18
Persons age 10-15 1 2 James, age 12; Elizabeth, age 14; Jane ??
Persons age 5-10 0 1 Margaret, age 9
Persons under 5 years of age 1 0 Wesley, age 4

The identities are only estimates; Jane was approximately age 20, but this list doesn’t fit for her. Was she just under 20? By 1850 Jane was dead, and I have not discovered evidence concerning her dates (but see under “The Children of David and Polly” concerning her.) This record shows the birth of 4 sons and 4 daughters. A later record suggests that the male aged between 15 and 20 years was Daniel, b. 1823, who died early. Ten years later the census showed another son, Edmond, age 4, the tenth and last child of David and Polly, who was born circa 1843 while the family was still in Indiana. By the time of the 1850 census three of the daughters were married and living elsewhere in Johnson County, and one (Jane) was dead.

See also: Children of David and Mary Branscomb

Following is the record for David’s family at the time of the 1850 census for Johnson County, IL (Household #294.)

Name Occupation Age Where born
David Branchcomb Farmer 55 Va.
Polly   53 Ky.
John Farmer 32 Ky.
James   23 Ky.
Wrisby (Should be “Wesley”)   14 Ind.
Edmond   7 Ind.

David, Polly and their sons were surrounded by relatives: Reuben Stone and his wife Elizabeth Branscomb were in household # 290, headed supposedly by a very young William Branchcomb; John and Sally Branscomb May were in household #292, daughters of Reuben and Elizabeth Stone were in households #291 and #293.

An Illinois state census for 1855 showed for David’s household one male and one female between the ages of 50 and 60, plus three males and two females between the ages of 10 and 20. David and Polly were in the upper age group, but only Wesley and Edmond, their two youngest children, were younger than 20 years. The logical assumption is that the other male and two females were grandchildren.

The years between 1854 and 1863 were eventful for David with respect to real estate. He acquired five major parcels of land and sold one of them. Following is information shown by the deed index for Johnson County:

25 January 1854: John Simmons to David Branscome: 38 acres in the southwest quarter of the southwest section of S6 T13 R4. (Book E, p. 247)

21 April 1855: David and Mary Branscome to Charles E. Osborn, 60 acres in the same location.(Book E,) suggesting that David already owned 22 acres there before 1854. Osborne subsequently sold the tract to William J. Branchcombe, who presumably was the firstborn son of Mary/Polly Branscomb, d/o Thomas Branscomb and granddaughter of the immigrant Richard Branscomb and his wife Sarah Proctor.

14 June 1855: John Simmons to David Branscombe, 20 acres in S15 T11 R3. (Book F, p. 115)

10 November 1855: David Branchcomb acquired from the Shawneetown Land Office a patent for 119.51 acres of government land: the north one-half of the southeastern quarter S1 T12S R3E and the northwest quarter of the southeastern quarter of S6 Ti2 R3; the two tracts were contiguous. (Information provided by LeAnn Kelley, found on the Internet.)

4 December 1862: N. W. Yates to David Branscome--no data. ( Book J. p.626).

25 June 1863: Lewis Elliott & wife to David Branscome–no data. (Book I, p. 333).

David’s wife Polly signed the deed (as Mary) when she and David sold the 60-acre tract to Charles E. Osborne in 1855. Nothing further is known for her. Presumably she died before 1860, because at that point her name is not shown in the census records; neither do we know where her body was buried. The 1860 census shows David as living alone except for three young grandchildren whose mother was David’s daughter Margaret; it is possible that the children were daytime visitors. Margaret and her husband Andrew Taylor lived two doors away. At the time of the 1860 census the two youngest sons of David and Polly were living next door to Margaret in the home of James Harpur (probably “Harper”). Although no reasons are known to explain the location of these family members in other nearby houses, the next few paragraphs may shed some light.

David lived for four years after the 1860 census. Of the nine children of David and Polly, five were dead before David died, and four of those deaths occurred between the time of the 1860 census and the date of David’s death in 1864. In addition, David himself had a most unhappy experience, which is hereby related. (I had not learned of it before my 1996 book was published and distributed. The majority of the pertinent records were forwarded by John Ottinger.)

David was past 60 years of age at the time of the 1860 census, and it is understandable that he would be interested in companionship and in having a female who could cook and keep house while he was busy with his farming and real estate transactions. We learn little about his courtship; we do learn that he did not waste any time after Polly’s death. In Williamson Co., Ill., just north of Johnson County, he found a Nancy Durer (the last name is difficult to decipher in the handwritten records and could be “Davis” or something else; it was certainly not her maiden name.). The marriage was solemnized in that county by Joseph Page, J. P., on 21 August 1856. The date of the marriage provides at least an approximation for the time of Polly’s death: David remarried precisely 16 months after she signed a deed on 21 April 1855.

Why, then, was Nancy not in the household at the time of the 1860 census? The answer appears to be that by then the true nature of this woman had become known. On 19 January 1861 David filed a suit for divorce. At the time of the 1860 census Nancy and her two children, plus David’s sons Wesley and Edmond, lodged three doors away in the household of J. (James) Harper/Harpur, age 31. David’s daughter Margaret, her husband Andrew Taylor, and their children lived in one of the intervening houses. It is difficult to ascertain why Wesley and Edmond were also living in the household of James Harper; One possibility is that Wesley was experiencing an illness which required Edmond to be his caretaker; such an illness did occur, but the timing seemed to be later. (See further under the history for Wesley.)

James K. Graham, clerk of the Circuit Court in Vienna, Ill., issued a summons on 19 January 1861 for Nancy to appear at the March court “to be holden. . .on the second Monday” to respond to the charges in David Branscome’s Bill for Divorce. David employed two attorneys, Kuykendall and Allison, to represent him. Following is a transcript of the suit for divorce. Although David signed the document, the language reveals the work of his attorneys. (See Book A, pp. 35 and 75.)

State of Illinois) Johnson County Circuit Court
Johnson County)
to March term thereof A.D. 1861

To the Hon, the Judge of the Johnson County Circuit Court in Chancery sitting:

Humbly complaining sheweth unto your Honor your Orator David Branscome of the County of Johnson and State of Illinois and now the husband of Nancy A. Branscome; that sometime during the month of August A. D. 1856 your Orator intermarried with the said Nancy A. Branscome in the County of Williamson State of Illinois and has continued to live with the said Nancy A. Branscome from such period as her husband, until shortly before the present time.

That soon after such intermarriage your Orator and the said Nancy A. removed to the county of Johnson and state aforesaid, and that from the time of such removal and at the time and times of the commission of the acts of adultery and other grievances hereinafter set forth they were and now are inhabitants of and residents in this County and State [of] Illinois.

And your Orator further shows that during his intermarriage with the said Nancy A. she has had one child by your orator, which is now living, to wit Sarah Jane Branscome a girl two years and six months and twenty five days.

And your Orator further shows that he is informed and believes and so charges the truth to be that the said Nancy A. disregarding the solemnity of the Marriage vows has since the marriage of your Orator with her committed adultery at divers places: and especially that the said Nancy A. sometime in the later part of the fall of the year A. D. 1860 or the beginning of the winter of said year in the County of Johnson and State of Illinois did commit adultery and have carnal connection with one John Bone [Boone?]

And your Orator further shows that he is so informed and so charges the truth to be that during the intermarriage as aforesaid the said Nancy A. did also commit adultery with one John Simmons but at what particular time or times your Orator is ignorant. (Readers will note that David bought land from John Simmons in January 1854 and June 1855.)

And your Orator further shows, that he is informed and believes and so charges the truth to be that prior to the time of your Orator’s marriage to the said Nancy A. and during the time that said Nancy A. was married the said Nancy A. gave birth to a bastard child and that the said Nancy A. wholly concealed the same from your orator both before and at the time of his marriage with her as aforesaid, representing to your Orator that the said bastard child was a legitimate child by a former marriage of the said Nancy A. And your Orator further shows that he would never have consented to marry with the said Nancy A. had he known she was the mother of an illegitimate child, and that your Orator never knew the same until shortly before the present time.

And your Orator further shows, that during all of the time of the marriage of your Orator with the said Nancy A. She has conducted herself toward your Orator in a very unkind and cruel manner, causing your Orator great distress both of body and mind, and that she has frequently told your Orator, that she would never have married him , had it not been for your Orator’s property and money; that she had lief sleep with a dog as with your Orator and that had she known that your Orator would have lived as long as he had she would never have married him; And your Orator further shows that he has been ignorant of the commission of the aforesaid acts of Adultery or either of them or any other act of adultery of the said Nancy A. until a short time before the present and that he has not voluntarily cohabited with the said Nancy A. since the discovery thereof and that such adultery was without the consent, connivance, privity or perceivement of your Orator.

In consideration whereof and to the end that the said Nancy A. may full true and perfect answer make to all and singular the premises, and that the marriage between your Orator and the said Nancy A. may be dissolved and a divorce decree according to the statute in such case provided, and that your Orator may have such further relief in the premises as shall be equitable, may it please your Honor to present unto your Orator the Peoples Writ of Summons issuing and of and under the seal of his Honorable court, directed to the said Nancy A. Branscome thereby commanding her at a certain day and under a certain penalty therein to be expressed to be and appear before your Honor in this Honorable Court, then and there to answer the premises and to stand to and abide such order and decree therein, as to your Honor shall seem meet and agreeable to equity, and your Orator will ever pray, &c.

(signed) David Branscome

As the case proceeded, three witnesses gave depositions on 27 July 1861 concerning the charges that were made in the complaint. Terms such as “this affiant” are indicative of the work of the attorneys. David’s son Wesley Branscome made this sworn statement:

That sometime during the Fall of the year A. D. 1860, this affiant heard the said Nancy say to the said David that if she had known the said David would have lived so long she would not have married him, and wished the said David Dead.

That sometime during the said Fall he saw the said Nancy & one John Boon at about midnight sitting up together in the kitchen of the house where said Nancy then lived, with their heads very close together whispering to each other very low, that this affiant could not hear what they said but they appeared very affectionate toward each other. Mr. David Branscome was at the time last above mentioned away from home, and the transaction took place in said David Branscome’s house.

David’s son Edmond also made a sworn statement:

That about 2 years ago this affiant heard said Nancy N. [sic] Branscome say that she had rather “lay” with a dog or the devil than to “lay” with one she hated so bad as she did said David.

That at one time the said Nancy became very much enraged because the said David broke a pie that said Nancy had baked and abused him very disgracefully and that for the past two years the said Nancy who is about middle age has treated the said David who is an old man with extreme & repeated cruelty, and abused him without any provocation or cause.

The third deponent was Minerva Veach, a neighbor, the wife of James Veach. In 1860 they were in household #954 in Bloomfield (p, 121), and Minerva’s age was shown as 32. Her statement was shown as recorded by the town clerk J. F.Graham on 27 August 1861. However, neither Nancy nor attorneys to represent her appeared in court on 8 August, the date designated for Nancy answer the charges in the complaint, the proper date for the deposition must have been earlier. In any case, all of the depositions by witnesses were unnecessary: the court record for that date read, “ Defendant (was) called and made default although three times Solemnly called came not, but wholly made Default, whereupon the Court enters Judgment Pro Confesso. . . whereupon it is ordered, adjudged and decreed by the court that the Bonds heretofore existing be dissolved and hereafter for naught esteemed and that Plaintiff have Judgment against Defendant for cost & charges in this behalf expended and that the Bill May Issue therefrom. Thursday August 8th, A.D. 1861

Nonetheless, Minerva’s statement will be of interest to readers about the affairs of David and his family, and therefore it is given:

That about two years ago the said Nancy A. Branscome told this affiant that she (the said Nancy) did not marry the said David for any love or affection which she had or him, but in order to get a home for herself & children and that the said David Branscome was a man of “no account” and was only an aggrevation [sic] to the said Nancy, said that the said Daniel was a lazy, good for-nothing old man, and bemeaned the said David in a very disgraceful manner.

And this affiant further on her oath states:

that sometime on or about [there is a blank in the page] she saw the said Nancy A. Branscome and one John Simmons. During the absence from home of the said David Branscome, in the house where the said David and Nancy resided, together; and that the said John Simmons was then & there Kissing the said Nancy and Embracing her in a very affectionate & fondling manner, and at the time she saw the said John Simmons & said Nancy in said position above mentioned there was no person in the house with them; that she saw the said through the crack or hole in the house, and this affiant further states that she has frequently heard the said Nancy scold fret at and berate the said David, and treat him in a very unhusbandlike manner.

That she has known the said David Branscome for several years & that he is an honest, industrious, man & always so far as this affiant knows treated the same Nancy with tenderness & provided for her in as good measure as his means would permit.

Minerva made her mark with an X.

(NOTE: in my 1996 book I raised the possibility that this Nancy A. Branscomb could be the seventh child of David’s much older brother Thomas Branscomb, who could have come from Wayne County, Ky., to care for her uncle David in his old age after the death of his wife. Thomas’s daughter Nancy did have a child before she had a husband, but she was definitely not the one whom David married and then divorced soon afterward. I did not learn about this Nancy A. before my book was published and all copies were distributed.)

As shown above, Nancy A. was rather frank with others that she didn’t care for David as a husband, but she was quite willing to stay in the vicinity during David’s final years in order to gain whatever she could. In the accounting for the estate of David Branscome (shown below), Nancy Branscome billed the estate for $16.80. In view of the antagonism between David and Nancy, readers may consider whether any of the charges were legitimate.

It is also of note that the 1860 census shows Nancy, age 39, b. Ky., housekeeper, in the household of J.(James) Harpur/Harper, and in the same household were David’s two youngest sons, Wesley and Edmond. Of course Nancy was still married to David at that point, but it is likely that by then they were estranged and that David was ready to end the marriage. Also in the household were William Thomas, age 16, John B., age 13, and Sarah, age 2. As shown in the records for the divorce of David and Nancy, Sarah was at least presumably Nancy’s daughter by David. More about Sarah appears below in the discussion concerning David’s estate. Presumably the other two males were also Nancy’s children, one of whom was the bastard son that Nancy bore before she married David, Why were two of David’s sons, in the home of James Harper? The answer concerning Wesley may have been illness, and Edmond could have been a caretaker for his brother. (See individual pages for these sons,) We do learn that James Harper’s wife Rebecca Rushing Harper was the head of household #968, two doors removed from #966 where James and his guests resided.

Estate of David Branscome:

David died on 5 April 1864, as shown by Probate Journal B., page 485. That document had a major flaw: B. S. Smith, the county clerk, had just completed the account for the death records for H. F. Taylor. On the next entry he began with the wording, “The said H. F. Tayler died on or about 5 April 1864,” and then he continued with the account for the record for David Branscome. David died intestate. The executor of his estate was an attorney and a friend, Lawrence William Fern. Fern signed the administrator’s bond and took the administrator’s oath on 18 April 1864; his security was Philander Yandell, also a friend. (J.D. Thomas arranged for the clerk of Johnson County to send me copies of the probate file for David Branscome; also for his son Wesley. LeAnn Kelley later visited the courthouse in Vienna to get copies of a few more papers which were not included in the packet that the county clerk had sent earlier.)

The estate sale was held on 11 June 1864 at the home of A. J. May and his wife, David’s daughter Elizabeth Branscome May. Following is the record from the bill of sale:

1 Bed, Bedstead & bedding A. J. May 5.00    
1 Clock James Braswell .10    
1 Saddle John Hale .50  
1 hand saw James Branscum .35   (presumably David’s son)
1 D. Knife (drawing knife) DO .95    
1 harrow Wm. Barnwell 2.15    
1 Wheat Scoop Reed Smoot .65    
2 Hoes H. L. Lambert 1.00    
1 Lot of old irons DO .25    
1 set Waggon irons DO 5.00    
1 Cultivator L. Wm. Fern 2.00    
1 Chain (could be “chair”) Margaret Taylor .25   (David’s daughter)
    _____    
    $18.15    

The limited quantity of household items, a clock, a bed, and possibly a chair, suggests that David may have distributed them to his children prior to his death, but that is only speculation. The only remaining asset to be sold at the estate sale was a mare; it was sold later to Jesse Garland for $40.00. Real estate was sold separately. It appears that all of David’s real estate was sold to John May, husband of his daughter Sarah (Book S, p. 428). Such sales are normally made by auction; the amount paid is not known.

The debts for which David was responsible also appeared in the records:

L. W. Simmons $27.25    
J. W. Hinds (Hines) 35.00    
M. Taylor 33.00   (David’s daughter Margaret)
N. Branscome 16.80   (Nancy A.)
A. J. May 63.00   (a son-in-law, husband of David’s daughter Elizabeth)
Wm. Barnwell 1.00    
S. Faulkner 1.00    
H. Kendall 12.00    
J. Whitnell 11.00    
L. Elliot 18.40    
N. W.Yates 14.70    
Thos (Thomas) Stone 7.50   Probably s/o Reuben Stone & Elizabeth Branscomb of Wayne Co., Ky.
Jas (James) Branscombe 48.62   (David’s son)
W. C. Underwood 5.00    
B. S. Smith 15.90   (County clerk)
John May 10.20   (Sarah’s husband and thus David’s son-in-law. Brother of A.J.?)
C. Chapman, Sheriff 12.40    
J. S. Crews, Rec. For 1.00    
Clk. Do .50   (ditto?)
Taxes, ‘65 7.86    
W. Reynolds (Wesley) 25.00    
A.J. May go to Massac on bus 3.00    
  _______    
  $370.03   (should be 370.13)

The payments to L W. Simmons and Josiah Whitnel were for medical care.

The $48.62 to David’s son James is explained under the account for David’s son Wesley.

Payment to B. S. Smith, the court clerk, was for recording or copying records. The same may also apply to payments to S. Faulkner, William Barnwell, and J. S. Crewes, but these are guesses.

Needham Yates in December 1862 and Lewis Elliot in June 1863 had sold real estate to David, and it is possible that the promissory notes they held were for payments due.

L. Elliot held a promissory note.

Thomas Stone was a young man from Wayne County, KY, and a carpenter. He made oath as follows: “To Misc. Cash expended &c for D. Branscome in his lifetime. . . [says that] the above amount $7.50] is true & correct & remains unpaid.” Did he make a coffin? (I surmise that Thomas was related to Reuben and Elizabeth Branscomb Stone.)

The $12 to Sheriff D. C. Chapman was for real estate taxes for 1862 and 1863.

The $25.00 payment due to Wesley Reynolds was almost surely the result of a charge account at Reynolds’s store. Farmers often paid their accounts after harvesting in the fall and crops were sold. The charge by Jas. Branscome is explained in the history for David’s son Wesley; see also Children of David and Mary Branscomb.

(As to the last entry on the list. “A. J. to Massac on bus,” we can only speculate: A. J. May was Sally Branscome’s husband, and his name appears three times on the list. Massac was a neighboring county, and “bus” could have indicated business on behalf of his deceased father-in-law.)

The following charges involved boarding David:

  • Henry Kendall: $10 for two months, plus $2 for hauling tobacco.
  • David’s daughter Margaret Taylor: $20 for four months, plus $6 for “Boarding hands in wheat harvest, $4 in boarding hands in housing corn,” and $3 “to working in tobacco.”
  • John May, husband of David’s daughter Sally: $63 “to care & boarding during last illness.”
  • Margaret’s bill for $33.00 covered: four months of board, $20.00; “boarding hands in wheat harvest, $6.00; Boarding hands in housing corn, $4.00," and “to working in tobacco, $3.00.”
  • N. Branscome was of course David’s second wife, Nancy A. Her bill involved “$5 for two weeks [board] during November 1863,” “$7.50 for five bushels of meal," and a promissory note presumably signed on 28 April 1863 by David for $4 plus interest for“value rec’d,” and, since the total was given as $16.80, the interest for “value rec’d” must have been $0.30. Readers may see a discrepancy between her charge for board and what others charged, and others might question the validity of any of her claims. Would David dare to eat any food prepared by her? What constitutes “value received”?

L. W. Fern’s administration of David’s estate would have been less problematic had David written a will. In the absence of such guidance, Fern made decisions as best he could. David and Mary had nine children, most of whom had died before David did. Of those children, Wesley and Edmond preceded David in death without leaving spouses or offspring. Thus only seven of the children were primary heirs, and five of those seven predeceased their father; their living offspring thus became secondary heirs. Then there was the child whom David accepted as his daughter by Nancy A. She became the eighth heir and one of the three who receive one-eighth share of David’s estate. I did not find any reference to this heir by name in any of the reports of L. W. Fern, but the divorce proceedings showed her as Sarah Jane and gave her age in August 1861 as 2 years, 6 months and 25 days. Again Nancy as Sarah’s mother profited significantly from her marriage to David. After the settlement of David’s estate, nothing more is known for Nancy and her children.

See also:
Children of David and Mary Branscomb

 

 

 

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Frederick B. Tubbs

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