My dad talked a lot about his father and mother, but not so much about his grandparents, Daniel and America (Pratt) Troutman and Eli and Rachel (Havens) Waggoner. Oh, I’d heard stories about his Troutman grandparents, but not about the Waggoners. The Troutmans had reunions, but not the Waggoners. The Troutmans tended to laud their heritage, but not the Waggoners. The Waggoners were a mystery, so I set out to learn more about them.
After I learned the story of Rachel's first marriage to Mark Rhea Devor, I started searching for answers to the identity of the first wife of my great-grandfather, Eli Pierce Waggoner. Learning her name was easier than finding out what happened to that marriage. At the Smyth County Court House in Marion, Virginia, I was hoping to find a marriage record for Eli and Rachel, but instead I uncovered a record for Eli and Betty O. Colly:
“Eli P. Wagoner (25) to Betty O. Colly (22), 21 July 1881. Parents: Jacob and Ann Wagoner and S.P. and Sarah Colly.”
So who was Betty O. Colly? According to the 1870 census, Betty was born in North Carolina about 1859, the eldest child of Luther and Sarah Colly. The family lived in Center Grove Township, Guilford County North Carolina, and Luther was a shoemaker. Betty had five younger brothers: Charlie (10), Luther (8), William (6), and Seymour (2). Ten years later when the 1880 census was taken, the family had moved to Rich Valley, Smyth County Virginia. Luther R. is still a shoemaker, and there are two additional children: Clayton Decatur (9) and Bessie L. (7). At last, Betty has a younger sister. This time the census says Betty was born in Virginia. Census record do not always agree on every point. (Not all records are transcribed correctly, either. Case in point is Betty's father's name in the marriage record. Was it S. P. or Luther R? All records, agree on Luther R., so the marriage record is most likely a transcription error.)
Now how did the boy from Bland County meet the girl from Smyth County? The answer is in the 1880 census. Living on the next farm to the Colley family is the Jerome Harman family. Jerome Harman’s sister is Anna F. Harman Waggoner, Eli’s mother. And where is Eli? At age 23, he’s living with his uncle Jerome’s family working as a hired hand on his farm.
|1880 Census Rich Valley, Virginia, Luther Colley family and Jerome Harman family. Betty's name is at row 15 and Eli's name is at row 31.|
The big question though, is how did the marriage of Eli and Betty Waggoner end? I have not been able to find a death record for Betty nor a divorce decree for Eli and Betty. I'll keep searching for and answer, but for now, it’s still a mystery.
 Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Marriage Book 1: 59, Eli P. Waggoner and Betty O. Colly, 1881; Clerk’s Office, Marion.
 1870 U. S. census, Center Grove, Guilford County, North Carolina, population schedule, Hillsdale Post Office, p. 26 (penned), dwelling 183, family 181, Luther Colly family; digital image, Ancesrty.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication M593, roll 1140.
 1880 U.S. census, Rich Valley, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 83, p. 12 (penned), dwelling 94, family 93, Luther R. Colley family; digital image, Ancesrty.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1390.
 1880 U.S. census, Rich Valley, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 83, p. 12 (penned), dwelling 94, family 93, Jerome Harman family; digital image, Ancesrty.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1390.
 John Newton Harman, Sr., Harman Genealogy (Southern Branch) with Biographical Sketches and Historical Notes, 1700-1924 (Radford, Virginia: Commwealth Press, Inc., 1925).
 1880 U.S. census, Rich Valley, Smyth County, Virginia, Jerome Harman family.
(c) 2013 Z. T. Noble
(c) 2013 Z. T. Noble