Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Left for Dead

This month's Genealogy Blog Party asks the question, "Which of your ancestors deserves to sit on the Iron Throne?" I have never watched Game of Thrones, and probably never will, but after reading the party rules, I quickly decided on Rachel Greist, my 5th-great grandmother.

Rachel was born on February 14, 1765,  to John and Elizabeth Greist. Rachel was the second youngest of five children. Her younger brother was John, but I do not know the names of her three older siblings, or where the Greist family lived when Rachel was born. By the late 1770's they lived on Peters Run in Ohio County, Virginia (now Wheeling, West Virginia).

Rachel was just 12 years old when her family was attacked by Indians. Rachel's three older siblings were killed, and her younger brother, John, who was only 8 years old, was taken captive. He would live with the Indians until he was an adult, eventually leaving them and settling in Belmont County, Ohio. During the attack, Rachel was scalped and left for dead.

Years later, Rachel's daughter and son-in-law, Vachel and Sidney Dickerson, were interviewed by Lyman Draper and gave an account of the attack and Rachel's survival:

"John Griste & family resided probably on the ridge near the head of Peters Run (a small stream above Shepherd's Fort at the Fork of Wheeling), & had, in 1777, gone with his family at Shepherd's Fort, but getting impatient, he took his children on to Peter's Run & left them there a short time - probably Mrs. Greist not among them - when Indians fell on the children & killed and tomahawked them; except John, then eight years old who was taken prisoner & kept several years...

The whites soon learned of the attack on the Grist family & found Rachel tomahawked scalped & thrown behind a log & finding signs of life, was taken in & sent to Washington to be doctored ... and recovered."

Rachel married Henry Jolly, son of Peter and Martha Jolly, on March 27, 1781. They had five children:
  • James, born May 25, 1790 (died July 27, 1792)
  • William Henry, born September 29, 1796
  • Kenzie Dickerson, born April 19, 1798
  • Sidney Jolly, born March 29, 1800
  • Albert Gallatin, born March 5, 1803
Sidney also related to Lyman Draper that Rachel "was feeble several years after marriage, and her death was finally caused by her old wound breaking out afresh." The nine-year gap between the marriage date and  James' birth and the six-year gap after his birth suggest that there were probably some miscarriages along the way, perhaps attributable to Rachel's "feeble" health after the attack.

Rachel died on November 8, 1805, at the age of 41.

Attacked and scalped. Left for dead. Survived and recovered. Led a normal life for 28 years afterward, including marriage and having children, in spite of a scalp wound that never fully healed. For this, Rachel Greist in my nominee for the Iron Throne. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My Best Genealogy Research Find in May 2016

This week's topic for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is our best research find in May 2016. Without a doubt, mine has to be the information discovered in the Draper Manuscript Collection about my ancestors, Henry Jolly and Vachel Dickerson. Henry Jolly was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and applied for a pension in 1818 when he was living in Washington County, Ohio.1 Vachel Dickerson married Henry's daughter, Sidney (Siddy) Jolly.2

Back in January, I learned that Lyman Draper had interviewed both of these men, but I was unable to get to the University of Central Florida, which has the collection on microfilm, until May. The collection is huge, so the first thing I did was locate the library's copy of Josephine Harper's guide, discovering that these two men and their families were directly interviewed or mentioned by others in nine different series of the collection. I had limited time, so I hastily scanned the relevant pages and walked away with over 200 images. Not all of the images pertain directly to Henry Jolly or Vachel Dickerson, but all are relevant to events that affected them or other family members.

I am still transcribing these documents, but the best part was an interview with Vachel Dickerson talking about his family, including his in-laws. In one note, Lyman Draper even identifies the names and birthdates provided in Henry Jolly's handwriting!3 The notes have confirmed the following:
  • Henry Jolly's parents: Peter & Martha Jolly
  • Henry's birthplace: Chester County, Pennsylvania
  • Henry's wife: Rachel Greist4
  • Rachel's parents: John & Elizabeth Greist5
  • Rachel's brother: John Greist
  • The existence of three other Greist siblings, even though their first names are not provided
  • Confirmed family legend that Rachel was scalped as a child, and suffered from the wound the rest of her life
  • Vachel's parents: Thomas & Margaret (Davis) Dickerson6
  • Vachel's birthplace: Fayette County, Pennsylvania
  • Vachel's siblings: Fredrick, Joseph, Isabella, Rebecca, Ellender, Elizabeth, Thomas and Sarah
Yes, some of these names were readily available from published genealogies and online trees, but none of the ones I examined had sources listed. The Draper Manuscripts allowed me to go back one generation on not one, but THREE direct lines, with evidence provided by the research subjects themselves!


1. "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files," digital images, ( accessed 27 May 2016), entry for Henry Jolly, Pennsylvania line; citing National Archives microfilm publication Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. M804, roll 1435.

2. William H. Jennings Esq., "Marriage Record, Washington County, Ohio, July 9, 1789 - April 25, 1822," The Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly 4 (July 1901); digital images, MyHeritage ( : accessed 6 Mar 2016).

3. "The Henry Jolly Family," Series 9S, Draper's Notes, vol. 1, pp. 79-80; Draper Manuscripts, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

4. Series 2E, Samuel Brady and Lewis Wentzel Papers, Draper Manuscripts. Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

5.  "The Greist Family," Series 9S, Draper's Notes, vol. 1, pp. 85-86; Draper Manuscripts, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison.

6. "The Henry Jolly Family," Series 9S, 1:79-80; Draper Manuscripts.