Sunday, July 31, 2016

Annoying Ancestors: Rebecca Horton

This month's Genealogy Blog Party is to "bring your most aggravating ancestor to our summer pool party and PUSH HIM (or HER) into the pool!"

My most aggravating usually would depend on what line I'm trying to research at any given moment, and this weekend it was back to the Horton clan from east Tennessee. After reviewing all of my notes and trying to get around scarce records, Rebecca Horton wins. And for good measure, I'll push her sister, Elizabeth Horton, in with her.

I can easily document my way back to my 3rd great-grandfather, Richard D. Horton, born about 1832 in Tennessee. In 1850 he is 19 years old, living with Rebecca Horton, age 47. The household is listed as:
  • Rebecca Horton, 47, b TN
  • America Horton, 26, b TN
  • Richard D, 19, b TN
  • Lucy F, 9, b TN
  • Zachariah T, 3, b TN

When I first got this far back, I made the assumption that Rebecca Horton was widowed by 1850, and looked for a marriage record to any Horton groom marrying someone named Rebecca in the late 1810's to early 1820's in east Tennessee. I could find no such record.

Eventually, I realized that Rebecca Horton was likely never married, and the same applies to her sister, Elizabeth. Here's what I do know about them:

  • In 1815, Rebecca Scior Horton and Elizabeth Horton are named as heirs to William Horton, their father. Fanny Horton is named their guardian. Earlier court documents indicate that William had died by 1812, and name Fanny as William's widow.
Court order naming Fanny Horton guardian for Rebecca & Betsy

          • In 1830, Fanny is enumerated on the Anderson County, Tennessee census:

            Male, age 5-9 2

            Male, 10-14 1

            Female, under 5 2

            Female, 5-9 2

            Female, 10-14 1

            Female, 20-29 2 (probably Elizabeth & Rebecca)
            Female, 60-69 1 (probably Fanny)
          • Note that given her age, the younger children in the household are unlikely to be Fanny's. Rebecca and Elizabeth are the likely the parents, but there are no men over 14 in the household.

          • In 1832, Rebecca and Elizabeth jointly purchase land in Anderson County, Tennessee
          Land purchase by Rebecca & Elizabeth Horton, 1832

          • Rebecca and Elizabeth appear on the tax rolls for 1837, 1838 and 1839

          • Fanny is not enumerated in the 1840 census, and Rebecca and Elizabeth are enumerated in their own households.

          • Rebecca is aged 30-39, and has a male the same age range in the household. There are also four children, with ages ranging from 5-19.

          • Elizabeth is also 30-39, has no adult males in the household, and has five children in all age brackets through 19 years old.

          • In 1850, Elizabeth is enumerated in Roane County with Henry & Elizabeth Liggett. I have not yet been able to determine if there is a family relationship or not.

          • I have not found Rebecca or Elizabeth in the 1860 census.
          It appears that both Rebecca and Elizabeth defied traditional norms, having several children each without ever getting married. And of course, they lived and died before vital records were recorded in Tennessee. Richard D., my direct ancestor, is the only child that I can trace with any certainty after 1860, and he died in Kentucky before that state began keeping vital records.

          I have the rare case of identifying a likely FEMALE relative (mother), but no way to determine who the father is.

          So, for leaving me with so many questions that can probably never be answered, including the identity of Richard's father, to both Rebecca and Elizabeth Horton ... SPLASH! Into the pool you go!


          1. A collateral branch of my husband's Williams family, Humphrey and Judith (Williams) Thacker, seemed to have the same issue and also lived in Anderson and Roane Counties. Early court records accuse the family of running a house of ill repute and one of their daughters also had at least one child out of wedlock. There are also some instances in this same early time period where men were hauled into court, accused of fathering someone's child. It seemed to be a fairly common occurrence in that time and place, but it sure doesn't help with figuring out who belongs to who!

          2. Fascinating detective work to figure out what was going on with these two relatives, defying traditional norms. It sure would have been tempting to push 'em into the pool. Instead you have a great story to tell!

          3. Well, these ladies deserve a dunk in the pool! You have done a great job of sifting through the available records. I'm impressed. :)