Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking Down Brick Walls: Part Two

Part One

Two Mondays ago, I transcribed the decision letter written by The Dawes Commission concerning my Hartley ancestors.  This letter mentioned the parents of my second great grandmother, Sarah Hartley Denyer Foster, as provided in the testimony of her brother, Samuel:  George W Hartley and Eliza Beasley.  However, the letter also mentioned another possible mother - Ann Fisher.
It also appears that all of said applicants claim rights in the Choctaw lands under article fourteen of the treaty between the United States and the Choctaw Nation, concluded September twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and thirty, by reason of being descendants of one George W. Hartley, and from Eliza Hartley (nee Beasley) (or Ann Hartley nee Fisher) who are alleged to have been three quarter blood Choctaw Indians and to have resided in Mississippi in eighteen hundred and thirty.
I said in my notes that followed the transcription I would devote a post to this conundrum.   I also said that Ann Fisher's name appears in only one other location in the documents I downloaded from Footnote for all eight related applications. A genealogy chart that appeared in Samuel T Hartley's application, but with no indication where/who it came from.  (click on the below images to see a larger version)

Samuel T. Hartley clearly states in his testimony that his mother was Eliza.

One assumption that could be made is that if there was a second mother for George Hartley's children, Ann Fisher was likely the mother of Sarah.  But that would be an assumption.  It's also possible Samuel may have said his mother was Eliza, but later admitted in some document I don't have, that his mother was actually Ann.  Or perhaps this chart was drawn up by the commission, and Ann's name got added there accidentally by some strange unknown series of events.

Is there any evidence that might support the theory that Sarah's mother was Ann?  Any evidence that might suggest otherwise?  Yes, and Yes.

1) Sarah's full name at birth, as far as family records are concerned, was Sarah Ann Hartley.  (circumstantial, but shouldn't be ignored.)
2) Sarah's second daughter was named Eliza.  (also circumstantial, but shouldn't be ignored either.)

3) One might ask who was the older child -- Samuel or Sarah -- and whether there is any evidence of which wife/mother came first.

Let's take a look at the evidence provided by the census.  The first census of any use is 1850.  (Prior to 1850, only the head of the household was named.)

1850  Census

In Houston County, Texas, there is an Eliza Hartley (32) living with two sons, Samuel (18)  and William (6).  They are in the same household as the family of  "Elijah and Margaret Wheeler."  Samuel claims in his testimony to have been born in 1830, so this isn't too far off.  However, there is no Sarah.

There is a Sarah Hartley (14), in another Houston County, Texas household.  Working as a farmhand for Hardey and Sarah Ware.  Her birth year would be 1836.


Sarah Hartley married Ebenezer Denyer (I have a copy of the marriage certificate)  There are no ages given.

1860 Census

Sarah is recorded as age 32.  Her birth year would be 1828.  (Her brother Samuel is in the same household, and is recorded as age 26.  This is the only census where Samuel is recorded as a younger age than Sarah.)

1870 Census

Sarah is recorded as age 30.  Ten years later, and she's 2 years younger!  But because of her husband, I know she's the same woman.

1872: Ebenezer Denyer dies
1874: Sarah marries George W. Foster

1880 Census

Sarah is recorded as age 44, putting her birth year back to 1836.  Her daughter Eliza Caroline Foster Reeves testifies to the Dawes Commission that Sarah was 66 years old when she died in 1898, suggesting she was born in 1832.

While her exact birth year is open to question, I am fairly certain that Sarah was younger than her brother Samuel.  If that is their mother, Eliza (Beasley) Hartley in Houston County, Texas in 1850.  And if Ann Fisher and Eliza Beasley were both wives of George Hartley, that means Ann was the first wife.  Of course, either Ann or Eliza could have been a mistress.

So this conundrum isn't solved.  If Ann Fisher's appearance in the Dawes Commission documents isn't a mistake, she could be the mother of either Samuel or Sarah.  Since her name doesn't appear in any of the testimony, and I have no idea how her name got introduced into the documents, I have recorded Eliza Beasley as the mother of all three children (including the William who appears in the 1850 census), and relegated Ann Fisher to the notes section of my database until I learn more about her.

1 comment:

J.M. said...

Great posts! I do love a riddle, and the one you present in this post is intriguing. I hope you'll be able to solve it.