Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Daniel A. and America Troutman: First Eleven Years of Marriage

In 1869, Grandpa Clint’s father, Daniel Absolum Troutman, was a newcomer to Rich Valley, Smyth County, Virginia. The story goes that he drove a herd of horses from Iredell County, North Carolina, to sell in Virginia, probably in 1868. Now that’s a long way across a difficult mountainous terrain to drive horses, but that’s the story. By this time, Daniel was 33 years old and had been through three years of the horrors Civil War battlefields, not to mention a Yankee prison, so maybe the difficulties seemed minor.

In Virginia, he met and apparently fell in love with America Ann Pratt, the 23-year-old daughter of Nicholas and Sarah (Thomas) Pratt, long time residents of the valley. Family lore says he wrote to his parents that she was the “Flower of the Valley of Virginia.” Daniel and America were married at Chatham Hill on 3 February 1869.[1]

After they married, the family story goes, Daniel took America by horse and buggy to North Carolina to meet his parents. When they arrived at the Troutman home place, he drove the buggy around the house whooping and hollering to announce their arrival. His family members ran outside and joined in the merriment, shouting their greetings to the groom and his bride. America was taken aback by the outburst and the lack of dignity.

She was unhappy in North Carolina, so Daniel took her back to the valley of her birth where their first child, a daughter they named Laura Estelle, was born in February 1870.[2] They called her Stelle. Less than two years later, a little boy, John William, was born on 23 December 1871. They called him Bud.[3] The third child was another boy, Clifton P., born 22 June 1874.[4] Child number four was a girl named Sarah Bessie J., born 10 January 1877.[5] Next came Mary Ellen 12 November 1878.[6]

The next year, tragedy struck twice. Five-year-old Clifton and baby Mary Ellen fell ill and died of flux, a common name for dysentery. Mary Ellen succumbed on 15 September 1879[7] and thirteen days later, Clifton died.[8] If that wasn’t tragedy enough, the following spring, Bessie fell ill with diphtheria and died on 6 April 1880.[9] Daniel and America had been through more than their share of sadness.

The 1880 census taken that summer lists D. A. (age 41), America A. (age33), Stella (age 10), and John W. (age 7). They can all read and write. Daniel’s occupation was “Tenant,” which probably means tenant farmer. Sadly and starkly absent from the list are three names: Clifton, Bessie, and Mary Ellen.[10]
Dates of birth and death on this tombstone differ from birth and death records at the Smyth County Courthouse. In the text, I have used the dates found in court house records, which evidence shows to be more accurate. This new tombstone was added in the 1950s by James Henry Troutman, a brother born after these three children died.

[1] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Marriages, Book 1: 30, D. A. Troutman and America A. Pratt, 3 Feb. 1869.
[2] 1900 U. S. census, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, Broadford Precinct, p. 119 (stamped), enumeration district [ED] 84, sheet 10-A, dwelling 166, family 167, Estella Worley, digital image ( : accessed 10 August 2014); NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1728. This census tells the month and year of Estella’s birth, and place as Virginia; the exact day is uncertain. Apparently, Daniel and America apparently never reported Estella’s birth at the courthouse, for it is not recorded in Smyth County. Negative searches also resulted online of Virginia Births and Christenings, 1853-1917, on Family Search and of Smyth County Virginia Births on Ancestry. An online search of records from Washington and Bland Counties was also negative.
[3] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 62, No Name Troutman (male), Dec. 1871. This birth was reported by N. H. Pratt, the baby’s maternal grandfather.
[4] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 112, entry for Clifton P. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[5] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Births, Book 1: 133, entry for S. B. J. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[6] Smyth County, Virginia, “Register of Births, Book 1”: 141, entry for Mary Ellen Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[7] Smyth County, Virginia, “Deaths, Vol. 1, 1857-1896”: 141, entry for Mary E. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. Records conflict regarding Mary’s cause of death. The courthouse record states, flux; the Mortality Schedule states dysentery, which is crossed out, and above it is written Hydrocephalus.
[8] Smyth County, Virginia, “Deaths, Vol. 1, 1857-1896”: 52, entry for Clifton P. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion.
[9] “U. S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885,” database image, ( : accessed 24 February 2014), Bessie Troutman, April 1880. Also, Smyth County, Virginia, Deaths, Vol. 1, 1857-1896: 54, entry for Sarah B. Troutman; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. Also, “Virginia Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917,” database ( : accessed 24 February 2014), Sarah B. Troutman, 6 April 1880. On the mortality schedule, diphtheria is crossed out and above it is written dysentery; the Smyth County Death Book states cause of death as diphtheria.; the index does not state a cause of death.
[10] 1880 U.S. census, 84th District, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 84, p. 2 (penned), dwelling 32, family 32, D. A. Troutman; digital image, ( : accessed 14 August 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm publication T9, roll 1390.

© 2014, Z. T. Noble

No comments:

Post a Comment