Thursday, December 1, 2016

Justin Richard Colby, His Many Wives and a Surprise

Justin Richard Colby was born on 11 September 1882 to Jeddiah "Jed" Colby and Evaline Stephenson. Some time around 1906 he began a relationship with or married Florence (Farwell) Hamlin, daughter of Thomas Farwell and Warrnetta Kronk. She was 12 years his senior and a widow with six children by previous husband, Albert Hamlin.

In 1910 Justin and Florence lived in Chicago. With them were their three oldest children and Florence's four youngest children from her first marriage. By 1918 Justin and his family, which now included four children of his own, lived in Detroit, Michigan. In 1920 his family lived with his brother-in-law, sister, and their children.

Justin and Florence must have broken up because on 28 May 1925 he married Pauline (Sinor/Shenor) Blum Dodge in Highland Park, Michigan. She said she had been married two times previously and Justin said he had never been married. Pauline immigrated from Bohemia, which was part of the Austrian Empire as a young girl. This marriage didn't last long. Pauline was awarded a divorce on 10 November 1926 for "extreme and repeated cruelty and non-support. But Justin had already married again. On 16 April 1926 he wed Florence Aetna (McElwain) Ball in Cuyahoga County, Ohio.[1] So for the first seven months of their marriage Justin was a bigamist. At the time of this marriage, Justin lived in Chicago.

Pauline (Sinor/Shenor) Colby Divorce Record; image courtesy of

In 1930 Justin and Florence lived in Pontiac, Michigan, with Justin's youngest son by the first Florence. This relationship did not last either. On 14 September 1939 Justin was in Gate City, Virginia, marrying 36-year-old widow, Millie Virginia (Hackler) Carter. When they married, Justin said he's been married two times previously. Like his other relationships, this one was destined to be short. Minnie was granted an absolute divorce on 1 August 1939 because Justin had deserted her.

When the 1940 census was enumerated Justin was married yet again to Edith Sheets, daughter of George Washington Sheets and Esther May Canbler. and lived in Pontiac. He died on 5 April 1945 in Pontiac. But this tale of the oft-married Justin Colby had one more twist...

On October 1945, barely six month's after Justin's death, Edith married his eldest son, Jeddiah Richard Colby, who was about 16 years her junior. This marriage record had me shaking my head. It's not every day you find a woman marrying her step-son.

[1] Florence Aetna McElwain was the daughter of Hiram McElwain and Mary A. Palmer. 

Florence (Farwell) Hamlin Colby died in 1948 in Lincoln Park, Michigan
Pauline (Sinor or Shenor) Bllum Dodge Colby Rhead died in 1960 and was interred in Napoleon, Michigan.
Florence Aetna (McElwain) Ball Colby died in 1968 in Ashland, Ohio.
Millie Virginia (Hackler) Carter Colby Stacy died in 1987 in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Edith (Sheets) was born about about 1889 or 1890; I do not know when she died.

Justin Richard Colby is not related to me. Millie Virginia (Hackler) Carter Colby Stacy was the wife of a third cousin once removed of my cousin's husband.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Nancy (Mitchell) Wilson or Nancy (Mitchell) Raines?

My father and his older brother married sisters. My aunt and uncle's children, my siblings, and I are double first cousins and share the same four grandparents. When they graciously agreed to DNA test, the company threw in the towel and merely labeled our predicted relationship as close family. But one of my double first cousins had a DNA match that the rest of us did not share. The common shared ancestor was our five times great grandfather, Robert Mitchell (1714-1799).[1]

I'm fortunate to know more about Robert Mitchell than is typical because several of his supposedly 13 children became prominent or well-known in their time, including my four times great grandfather, Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841). However, those 13 children have caused issues in my family tree as I have Robert Mitchell and his wife, Mary Enos, with 15 children.

One of Robert Mitchell's confirmed sons, Stephen Mitchell (1749-c1806), married Katurah "Kitty" Wade and had eleven known children, the eldest being Nancy Mitchell. During a trip to the Bedford County courthouse, I found a marriage record for a Nancy Mitchell, who married a William Wilson. I assumed it was "my" Nancy Mitchell because Stephen Mitchell (father) provided the surety and she was married by Rev. James Mitchell (uncle). I could find no trace of Nancy and her husband after their marriage on 26 January 1802.

However, this new DNA match had a different marriage date and husband for Stephen Mitchell's daughter, Nancy -- a Benjamin Rains. Which husband was correct?

I renewed my search for William and Nancy (Mitchell) Wilson and Benjamin and Nancy (Mitchell) Rains and finally found a possible hint, which was a Find A Grave memorial for Nancy (Mitchell) Wilson.

The footstone of Nancy (Mitchell) Wilson's grave, indicating she was the
daughter of a Revolutionary War soldier; photograph courtesy of Marc Doty

The memorial page also included a reference to a book entitled The History of Hendricks County. On page 632 there was a biographical sketch about William Wilson and Nancy Mitchell:

William Wilson Family

"Early in the summer of 1835 William Wilson and his wife, Nancy Mitchell Wilson, and three of his married daughters, their husbands and families formed a colony of about 25 people who moved from Bedford County, Virginia, to Hendricks County, Indiana, and settled in what is now known as the White Lick neighborhood.

William Wilson and Nancy Mitchell were married on July 24, 1802, according to a certified document in the clerk's office at Bedford, Virginia. She was the daughter of Stephen and Katurah Wade Mitchell, who were married on March 18, 1783.

Nancy's father, Stephen, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was the son of Robert Mitchell of Bedford County, Virginia, as evidenced in Will Record "B" of Bedford County Records.

Stephen Mitchell enlisted on December 26, 1776, as a private in the 14th Battalion of the Continental Regulars, commanded by Capt. George Lambert, who later rose to the rank of colonel. Later, Stephen became a sergeant and was honorably discharged on December 26, 1777. Col. Lambert's unit was part of Big. Gen. Weeden's brigade, which was part of Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Green's army, which was part of Gen. George Washington's Continental Army in 1777.

William and Nancy Mitchell Wilson were parents of:
  • Katurah Wilson (b. 1804) did not come with her parents to Indiana
  • Elizabeth (b. 1806) married Stephen Hylton[2]
  • Patsy (b. 1808) married William Worrell
  • Stephen (b. 1811) married Margaret McKinzie
  • Polly (b. 1813) married Nathaniel Hylton
  • Eleander (b. 1815) married Charles Larsh
  • Celicia (b. 1817) married Isaac Nash
  • Lucinda married Isaiah Free
  • Theressa was born in 1832
  • Alexander Wilson (b. 1825)
  • John Wilson
In 1837, William Wilson purchased 80 acres of land east of the present site of the White Lick church. Three sons-in-law -- Stephen Hylton[2], husband of Elizabeth Wilson; Nathaniel Hylton, husband of Polly Wilson; and William Worrell, who married Patsy Wilson -- purchased land in the immediate vicinity.

The younger children of William and Nancy Wilson married after the family moved to Indiana. The marriage records of Hendricks County show that in 1841 Celicia Wilson and Isaac Nash were married; in 1842, Eleander Wilson and Charles Larsh were married; and in 1845, Lucinda Wilson and Isaiah Free were married.

Celicia and Isaac Nash established their home a few miles north of Brownsburg, Indiana, and reared a family of five sons and three daughters. The old homestead still remains in the possession of the Nash descendants.

Eleander and Charles Larsh moved to Marion County and Lucinda and Isaiah Free moved to Iowa.

Stephen Wilson, the only son to reach manhood, married Margaret McKinzie in 1831. Their daughter, Jane, was the last one of her family to bear the Wilson name. Her son, Thomas Legrand Harris, of Greencastle, Indiana, knows much of the family history.

In the White Lick Cemetery, which was originally the Wilson Cemetery, are gravestones recording the early deaths of many of the family. Some were victims of cholera and other diseases which swept central Indiana in 1840-1842. Two of William Wilson's sons, John and Alexander, died in 1840; Nathaniel Hylton died in 1841, Nathaniel's brother, Samuel, in 1842, leaving young widows and orphaned children. William and Nancy Wilson, William Worrell and Patsy, Samuel and Elizabeth Hylton, children and grandchildren are buried there."

While this is secondary evidence, at best, that my tree is correct, I am satisfied until my next research trip to Bedford County.

[1] Robert Mitchell is the common shared ancestor according to and my paper trail. However, the common shared ancestor could be a branch of my family tree I know nothing about.

[2] Stephen Hylton is incorrect; the hustand of Elizabeth Wilson was Samuel Hylton. The article uses the incorrect name initially and then changes Elizabeth's husband's given name to Samuel later in the article. Only Samuel Hylton was interred in the White Lick Presbyterian Cemetery

Robert Mitchell, the Elder