Thursday, July 11, 2013

Rachel Havens' Childhood: Not an Easy Life

What was childhood like for my grandmother Mary Waggoner’s mother, Rachel Havens? Born in 1862 when her mother was 38 years old, during the second year of the Civil War, Rachel was the sixth of seven children. Her siblings were Bryant, born 1843; Andrew Jackson, born 1845; Cosby Victoria, born 1846; John James, born 1850; Barbara Elizabeth, born 1852; then a younger brother James Winton “Wint,” born 1865. Due to that ten year time gap between the birth of Elizabeth and Rachel, it’s possible there were other children who died. Many families lost children in those days.
War or no war, the family seems to have had little in terms of financial resources. Census records show that her father, James Havens, owned no land. In the 1860 Wythe County Virginia census, his personal estate was valued at $500.00.[1] In today’s dollars, this amounts to about $11,295.00, according to “historic value of the dollar” on
In 1860, the James Havens family lived in Wythe County. To see an interesting historical map of Wythe County click on this link:  Note surrounding counties.
Considering the time she was born and her father’s finances, it’s safe to say that she must have faced hardships. Early in the war, Rachel’s brothers Bryant and Andrew had enlisted with Company F, 45th Virginia Infantry.[2] What anxiety must have permeated the home to have these older brothers gone off to war! By 1864, at age 43, her father James had also enlisted, but with Co. A, 11 Battalion, Virginia Reserves, Wallace’s Battalion, CSA, serving under his older brother, Captain John Havens.[3] At the end of the war, James signed an oath of allegiance to the United States Government on 13 June 1865, in Charleston, West Virginia.[4]
All of them returned from the war, but James survived only a short time. Sometime between signing the oath and the 1870 census, he died leaving his wife, Mary Jane to fend for herself with two small children still at home. By 1870, she had moved to Maiden Spring, Tazewell County. Besides Rachel and Wint, sister Cosby and brother John were still at home with their mother. John, who was working as a farm laborer, appears to have been the only source of income for the household.[5]
To see the only map I could find that shows Maiden Spring, click on this link. You can see the name M. Springs, just below Tazewell C. H.
The war was disastrous for the South, and this was only five short years later. The war had ripped apart families and country and killed thousands of the nation’s young men. In the years following the war, Virginia’s economy was in ruins, many banks had closed, Confederate money was worthless, many families had lost husbands and sons. Soldiers in the South had returned to ruined homes and farms and plantations. Mary Jane Havens and her family surely were struggling to survive. Many children worked odd jobs for people to earn a little extra money for the family. By 1880, Rachel was working as a cook in the home of a young attorney, S. W. Williams and his family, on Jackson Street in Sedden, now Bland, Virginia.[6] Mary Jane had also moved to Sedden and lived with her daughter Elizabeth and husband, John Pauley; she earned her living knitting stockings.[7]
This link will take you to a great map of Bland County, so you can get an idea of where they lived, and you can see the relationship to surrounding counties, especially Tazewell. Smyth County is straight south, but the name is not on the map.
This was life for Rachel at age 18 when she met and married young Mark Rhea Deavor, age 19 in January 1881. We just do not know what hardships they faced that caused their divorce. Apparently, no children were born to them. Considering the cultural mores of the 1880s, especially in rural areas such as Rich Valley, Smyth County Virginia, when divorce was not the norm, they may have been scorned. Some people may have gossiped about them or looked down on them. I can only speculate. What might have been a scandal then is ho hum today. But we do know that a year after her divorce, Rachel married our great-grandfather, Eli Pierce Waggoner, and the two of them raised eight children, including our grandmother Mary, and had a long life together.

[1] 1860 U.S. census, Wythe County, Virginia, population schedule, sixty-eighth district, p. 165 (penned), dwelling 1234, family 1100, James Harins [Havens], database ( : accessed 08 July 2013).
[2] U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865, Bryant Havens, Private, Company F, Virginia 45th Infantry Regiment; database (, accessed 10 July 2013). Kentucky, Confederate Pension Records, 1912-1930, Andrew J. Havens, 45th Virginia Infantry; database ( : accessed 11 July 2013).
[3] Military, compiled service records, Civil War, Confederate, images Fold3 ( : accessed 8 July 2013), card for James Havens, Pvt., Co. A, 11 Battalion Virginia Reserves, 1864-1865.
[4] Ibid.
[5] 1870 U. S. census, Maiden Spring, Tazewell County, Virginia, population schedule, Knob Post Office, p. 88 (penned), dwelling 501, family 511, Mary Havens family; digital image, ( : accessed 8 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1356.
[6] 1880 U.S. census, Sedden, Bland County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 6, p. 19 (penned), dwelling 2, family 2, Rachael Havens; digital image, ( : accessed 2 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1390.
[7] 1880 U.S. census, Sedden, Bland County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 6, p. 1 (penned), dwelling 2, family 2, John G Pauley household; digital image, ( : accessed 11 July 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1356.

(c) 2013 Z. T. Noble

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