Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rachel's First Marriage: Intriguing Finds.

Who were the first spouses of Eli Pierce Waggoner and Rachel S. Havens, my dad’s maternal grandparents? That was the big question on my mind after noticing that the 1910 Census reported they had each been married two times.

Finding the answer took a trip to two court houses, but it turned out to be fairly easy. At the Bland County Court House, I found Rachel’s first marriage recorded in one of those hefty books that take muscles to lift, Bland County Marriages Book 1:  "Deaver, Mark R. (19, blacksmith) to Rachel S. Havens (18), Jan. 13, 1881. Parents: Henry and Louisa Deaver and James and Jane Havens."[1]
What a boon! Not only did I now know the name of Rachel’s first spouse, his occupation, his parent’s names, and the marriage date, but also the names of Rachel’s parents. Up to this point, I had not known that important fact, which helped to open up more information on her and her family, later.
And who was Mark R. Deaver? Searching 1870[2] and 1880[3] Bland County Virginia census records, I found confirmation that Mark’s parents were Henry H. and Louisa Devor. Also I found a birth record that shows his birth as 24 August 1861[4].
Next, I looked in chancery records for the divorce, and once again, I hit paydirt. In Bland County Chancery Order, Book 2, p. 440, dated 13 August 1884, I found that “Rachael Deavors” had brought suit in court for divorce proceedings against “Rhea Deavor,” who did not appear because he was “a non resident of this state.” Had he had deserted Rachel? I wondered.  The court decided that the charges (which are not named) against the defendant had been proven, that the complainant was entitled to be divorced from her husband, and that the defendant should pay court costs.[5] (Notice that already we have four spellings for Mark’s surname: Deaver, Deavors, Deavor, and Devor.)
Rachael Deavors against Rhea Deavor, In Chancery, August 1884

So where was Mark Rhea Deaver/Deavors/Deavor/Devor in 1884?
On, I found a U. S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, dated 26 May 1885 that shows Mark R. Devor enlisted at Cincinnati, Ohio, at age 24 years, 10 months. He is from Sedenville, Virginia, which is in Bland County. His occupation is “Horseshoer”; he has grey eyes, brown hair, fair skin, and is 5’ 7”. He’s enlisted in 1st Cavalry, Company F, and he was discharged 20 July 1886; it doesn’t say where.[6]
U. S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-19144, dated 24 May 1885, Mark R. Devor.
Next, I found a Washington State and Territorial Census, 1857-1892, that shows M. R. Deavor residing in Thurston, Washington in 1885, age 25, single, a trader, born in Virginia.[7] Was this our man? Did the military send him to Washington? Whatever the case, these records give evidence that he was gone from Virginia in 1885, which is as close as I’ve been able to get to the divorce date of August 1884. He was certainly nowhere to be found when Rachel was granted her divorce.
Washington State and Territorial Census, 1857-1982, dated 1885, M. R. Deavor,

With intriguing evidence about Rachel and her first marriage, I went looking for Eli Waggoner’s first wife. What was their story?

[1] Bland County, Virginia, Marriage Record Book 1: no page. Mark R. Deaver and Rachel S. Havens, 1881; Clerk’s Office, Bland.

[2] 1870 U. S. census, Bland County, Virginia, population schedule, Bland C.H. Post Office, p. 17 (penned), dwelling 110, family 110, Henry H. Devor; digital image, ( : accessed 25 June 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M593, roll 1636.

[3] 1880 U.S. census, Rocky Gap, Bland County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 5, p. 17 (penned), p. 372A (stamped), dwelling 148, family 151, H. H. Devor; digital image, ( : accessed 25 June 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1356.

[4] Bland County, Virginia, Record of Births, 1861-96: 3, database, ( : accessed 25 June 2013), entry for Mark Devor, 24 August 1861.

[5] Bland County, Virginia, Chancery Order, Book 2: 440, Rachel Deavors v. Rhea Deavor, divorce ; County Clerk’s Office, Bland.

[6] U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, database ( : accessed 25 June 2013), entry for Mark R. Devor, “1st Cavy, Co. F,” Cincinnati, Ohio, 26 May 1885.

[7] Washington State and Territorial Censuses, 1857-1892, Thurston, Washington, 1885, line 21, M. R. Deavors, database, ( : accessed 25 June 2013), Olympia, Washington: Washington State Archives, M1, microfilm number V228, roll 17.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eli and Rachel: A Marriage Mystery

I’ve found my grandmother Mary Ann Waggoner’s parents to be an interesting pair with a bit of mystery surrounding their marriage. Her father, Eli Pierce Waggoner, was born on 25 October 1854,[i] the second of nine children born to his parents, Jacob and Ann (Harman) Waggoner. Eli’s birth record is the only one I’ve found of all their children, for apparently he was the only one born in Smyth County where records were still held in the court house when I was searching a few years ago. The others were born in Bland County where records had already been sent to Richmond at the time of my first court house visit in that county.

Eli was a tall, angular, thin man with straight posture. In a small tintype, which must have been his wedding picture taken around the time they married on 2 September 1885,[ii] he sits in a chair with his legs crossed, hands resting in his lap, top button of his coat fastened, and wearing a wide-brimmed, dark hat. His dark mustache is trimmed neatly; light eyes peer at the camera; shadows on his cheeks reveal his angular face and high cheekbones. His bride, Rachel S. Havens, daughter of James and Jane (Thompson) Havens, born 17 November 1862,[iii] stands next to him, her right hand resting lightly on his left shoulder. Her round face is framed by bangs, her dark hair pulled back into a topknot.  Her light eyes look solemnly at the camera with a penetrating gaze; she has a small mouth and nose, a pleasant face. She wears a dark dress, long-sleeved with ruffles at the cuffs, that fits snugly to her thick waist. The skirt drapes apart in front to reveal tiered pleats from just below the knee to the hem; the outstanding feature is a white, lace-trimmed jabot cascading from her neck, nearly to her knees. She reminds me of photos I've seen of Laura Ingalls Wilder at about that time period.

Eli Pierce Waggoner and Rachel S. Havens, wedding portrait, Sept. 1885.

Years ago, my mother showed me this picture and said, “Here’s a picture for you. I’m not sure who they are, though.”

“I know exactly who they are!” I was thrilled to see the picture, for I recognized them as Eli and Rachel from having studied their faces in a family portrait I’d had for several years, which you can see in my April 7, 2013 blog. They were younger in the tintype, but their faces were unmistakable.
In the family portrait, perhaps taken when Rachel was in her early forties, she is much rounder, an ample woman. Eli was fifty-ish, yet he sports the same slim figure, deep-set, light eyes, a graying walrus mustache that hides his mouth—much bushier than in the younger portrait. They remind me of the nursery rhyme, “Jack Spratt could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.” Eli has the gaunt cheeks and prominent cheekbones of his mother, Anna F. Harman Waggoner, a trait evident in photos of several of Anna’s children.

I first discovered a mystery surrounding the marriage of Eli and Rachel while looking at the 1910 US Census of Bland County Virginia. This census holds a treasure trove of information for family history researchers. In the column labeled "Whether, single, married, widowed or divorced" was M2 for each of them. In this census, the enumerators included number of times married. Two?  I looked again. Wow! Who were their first spouses and what happened to their first marriages? Solving that puzzle was my next quest.

[i] Smyth County Virginia, Register of Births Book 1, p. 71, Eli P. Wagner, Oct. 25, 1854 to Jacob Wagner (farmer) and Ann; Clerk’s Office, Marion. In records, I’ve found their name is spelled various ways: Waggoner, Wagoner, and Wagner. The former is the earliest spelling. In citing records, I’ll use whatever spelling occurs in the record, but otherwise, I’ll spell the name the early way because that’s the way it’s spelled on Eli’s grave. Perhaps that’s what he preferred.
[ii] “Waggoner Rites Held,” obituary for Rachel Waggoner, unknown newspaper transcription, no date available, date of marriage is stated as September 2, 1885.
[iii] “Waggoner Rites Held,” obituary for Rachel Waggoner, unknown newspaper transcription, no date available, date of birth is stated as November 17, 1862.

(c) 2013 Z. T. Noble

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Clint and Mary's Romance

In my first blog post, I promised to tell the story of my grandparents' Clint Troutman and Mary Waggoner’s romance, but I have yet to do that. My cousin Connee’s poem, quoted in my last blog, tells some of that story. But there’s more.

I don’t know when Mary and Clint met and fell in love, but I suspect it might have been some time after October 1898 when the Waggoner family sold their farm[1] on the White Oak Branch in northeastern Smyth County and bought land in Rich Valley not far from where the Troutman family lived.[2] Clint’s family had been living on a farm in Rich Valley on the north side of Walker mountain since 1887. That’s the year when Clint’s maternal grandparents, Nicholas H. and Sarah “Sally” Pratt, deeded acreage to their daughter, America Troutman, for the grand price of $1.00.[3] Why they did this? I can only guess.

A family story may give a clue as to the reason: Clint’s parent’s home burned to the ground at some point in their marriage. Maybe America’s parents were trying to help them get back on their feet after the fire. A map of Smyth County dated 1899 shows the location of the Troutman land, but the name on the map is D. A. Troutman, not A. Troutman.[4] Whether Clint’s father Daniel Absolum Troutman owned land himself seems to be in doubt. I’ve found no records to offer evidence that he did.

For reasons unknown, Clint’s family did not approve of the romance, nor did Mary’s family. Maybe Clint’s mother, who seemed to take pride in her family heritage, thought Mary’s family was too poor, perhaps not good enough for her son. She had a sharp tongue and a hot temper, her children have said. America came from a family of landowners in the valley.

As for Mary’s parents’ objections to Clint, I don’t even have a guess on this one. According to Clint’s children, he had dropped out of school in fifth grade after an altercation with his teacher, who happened to have been a Pratt cousin of his. For whatever mischief he had done, she had slapped him across the face and left a red welt on his cheek. Some stories say, he was bleeding. He turned and fled out the door of the school and ran home. There, his mother sided with him and told him he didn’t have to go back, so he didn’t. He started working the farm with his father, instead.

According to my aunt’s memories of the letters she read (see my blog of April 3), Mary’s and Clint’s courtship involved meeting on the sly at parties of mutual friends in the valley. According to Mary’s teaching certificate dated 1907, we can reasonably say that Mary was teaching in the valley that year. One of her students was a boy named Reese DeBord, who later married Clint’s niece, Eula Troutman. For years, Reese called his aunt-in-law, Miss Mary, as that was the name the children called her at school.

In about 1909, Mary’s family decided to move to Missouri where several of Mary’s paternal uncles had moved. I’ve wondered why she left Clint and went away with her family. After all, at age 22, she was an adult. Maybe she and Clint decided it would be better for her to go, and for him to follow, than to face the rants of his mother if they stayed and married in Virginia. Whatever the case, Mary left and Clint later followed. Connee’s poem tells of Clint’s romantic exit from Virginia.

My dad added another dimension to that story: It seems that Clint’s older brother Jim dubbed Clint with the nickname Shoat as they were growing up. For those who are unfamiliar with that farm term, a shoat is a baby pig. A few days before Clint left Virginia to join Mary, he and Jim were arguing. In the heat of the moment, Clint said to Jim, “One of these days, and it won’t be long, you'll look for Shoat, and Shoat will be gone!”

A few days later, he slipped off in the night, hiked up Walker Mountain, took his last look across the valley of his home, gulped down the lump in his throat, and trudged on to Marion to catch a train to join the love of his life, his sweet Mary, in far away Missouri. He and Mary were married in Mexico, Missouri, on October 27, 1909.[5]

Walter Clinton Troutman and Mary Ann Waggoner--Wedding portrait, Oct. 1909

[1] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 26, p. 182-183; Rachel Wagner and E. P. Wagner to R. M. Gaddy, 19 October 1898; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[2] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 25, p. 492; A. J. Harris and C. C. Harris to Rachel Wagner and her children, 31 October 1898; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[3] Smyth County, Virginia, Deed Book 17, p. 202, Nicholas H. and Sarah Pratt to America A. Troutman, 20 November 1897; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[4] Chas. R. Boyd and John D. Barns, Smyth County Virginia, 1899 (Washington, D. C.: A. B. Graham Lithograph, 1899.) This is a geological and topographical map commissioned by the Smyth County Board of Supervisors; a copy is held by Zola Troutman Noble, Anderson, Indiana; an original is held at The Museum of the Middle Appalachians, Saltville, Virginia.
[5] Troutman Bible Records, 1909-1979, family pages only, photocopy held by Zola Troutman Noble [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana. Entries suggest that the earliest owners were Walter C. Troutman and Mary Ann Waggoner, whose marriage on Oct. 27, 1909, is the earliest record. Photocopies were sent to the author by Jill Lamson Gran who holds the original Bible.

(c) 2013 Z.T. Noble