Friday, May 6, 2016

The Daughter Who Wasn't

William Peter Ternes came from a wealthy Detroit family of German descent. He worked with his brothers at Ternes Coal & Lumber, where he had been the treasurer since 1905. He was also a vice president of The Cooper Baking Co. In 1910 he eloped with Elsie Agnes Gerstner, who worked for the company as a bookkeeper.

Elsie Agnes Gerstner working at Ternes Coal & Lumber;
photograph courtesy of Randall Muir

William went on to found his own coal and lumber business and finally a real estate business before his death. He and Elsie had seven children before William Peter Ternes died of pulmonary edema at the age of 49 on 17 November 1926.[1]

Elsie married John Francis "Frank" Deacon, a widower with two children, on 27 June 1928. They had a daughter, Frances T. Deacon, the next year. When the 1930 census was enumerated the family lived at 722 Chicago Boulevard in Detroit, along with four servants. The house was valued at $50,000 and Frank and Elsie ran a real estate company together with Elsie acting as president.

Elsie (Gerstner) Ternes on the day of her wedding to Frank
Deacon. Left to right: Marian Ruth Ternes, Evelyn Ternes,
Elsie, and Joy Margaret Ternes; photograph courtesy of
Sally (Ternes de Reuter) Martinez

Fredrica Deacon, Daughter of Frank Deacon

Evelyn Ternes, Elsie's eldest child by William Peter Ternes, and Fredrica "Frieda" Deacon, daughter of Frank Deacon and his first wife, were good friends. A month after their parents married, they traveled to Europe together aboard the S/S Regina and returned aboard the S/S Arabia on 21 August 1928. At the same time the young women were in France, Frieda's future husband was also there. He departed Cherbourg aboard the S/S Pennland and arrived in New York on 6 August 1928 two weeks before the women.

Frieda and Frank married on 18 June 1929. Frank was a prominent attorney in Detroit. He died on 19 January 1933 after suffering for three days from uremia. Nearly a month after her husband's death, Frieda gave birth to their son, Frank J. Hester, Jr., on 10 February 1933. Frieda's mother-in-law apparently made several threats to take the boy away from Frieda.

Elsie (Gerstner) Ternes Deacon Dies

In 1932 Elsie, Frank Deacon's second wife, was diagnosed with breast cancer. After suffering for 18 months she died on 23 December 1933, leaving her new husband, six living children by her first marriage, and 4-year-old daughter, Frances Deacon. After her death, several people in the extended families, began trying to get Frank and Elsie's real estate business.

Move to California

To escape the business sharks and the mother-in-law who wanted to snatch her baby, Frieda (Deacon) Hester, and her father, Frank Deacon, moved to Santa Barbara, California, with their children, Frances Deacon and Frank Hester. Frank Deacon died there in 1936.

When the 1940 census was enumerated, Frieda owned a farm in Santa Barbara and lived there with two children, who were listed as Frances Hester, 10, and Frank Hester, 7. She married Adolph P. Kerr sometime before 1942. Frieda and Adolph remained in Santa Barbara until their deaths in 1975 and 1976, respectively.

The daughter, Frances Hester, was really Frieda's half-sister, Frances Deacon.

I discovered this story while trying to find Elsie's six living children in the 1940 census. I thought I figured out Frances Hester and Frances Deacon were the same person but couldn't prove it until I contacted another user who confirmed the details and provided the reasons why. Other portions of the story, came to me from descendants of Marian Ruth (Ternes) Muir.

[1]Elsie had their seventh child three months after William's death. One child, Ruth Marie Ternes (1914-1917), drowned at the family's summer place on Hickory Island.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Did John W. Jennings, Sr. (c1777-1858) Marry His Niece?

In early April one of my fellow Jennings researchers forwarded me an email from another Jennings researcher, who believed John W. Jennings, Sr., (c1777-1858) was not the son of Benjamin Jennings (c1740-1815). I have considered these two men my three times and four times grandfathers, respectively, for many years. The doubter believed John's sister, Elizabeth had married Benjamin Walrond, who was the father of Anna Mariah Walrond. She was John W. Jennings, Sr.'s wife. If true, it would mean 1) John married his niece, 2) John was not a son of Benjamin Jennings, Sr., 3) Elizabeth married a different Benjamin Walrond, or 4) Anna Mariah Walrond was not the daughter of Benjamin Walrond.

Abtract of Benjamin Jennings, Sr.'s will; courtesy of Documented Notes on
Jennings and Allied Families
by Beatrice Doughtie

Emails were flying as four of us began trying to prove one of the four possibilities. As I participated in the exchanges, it became apparent to me that pooled together we had more than enough records about the Benjamin Jennings family group to prove whatever scenario prevailed. What we were sorely missing was research about the Benjamin Walrond family group. I confined myself to online research for nearly two weeks and began to develop information about Benjamin Walrond and his family, but there were still questions.

Meanwhile, emails continued to fly. Honestly, I got confused by all the evidence we were citing in these efforts, including my own. So I stopped researching and began indexing and analyzing.

Snippet of the Jennings-Walrond timeline I created using Excel

First I created a timeline for the relevant people. When completed it had 141 entries and required 6 pages to print.[1] It included Year, Location, Fact, Person, Source, and Description/Notes as column headings. The timeline included the following people:
  • Anna Maria Walrond (about 1782-1868)
  • Benjamin Jennings, Sr. (c1740-1815)
  • Benjamin Walrond, Sr. (after 1765-1811)
  • Benjamin Walrond, Jr. (1777-1839)
  • Elizabeth Jennings (c1775-unknown)
  • Elizabeth MNU[2] (after 1765-before 1788)
  • John W. Jennings, Sr. (about 1777-1858)
  • Lucy Ellington (1770-1821)
  • Martha "Patsy" Owen (after 1776-1840)
  • Patsey Wiley (unknown-bef 1804)
Courtesy of
Courtesy of

Next, I conducted one more research sweep as the timeline raised some questions I had not previously considered and hinted at one critical fact I had not known before. The second research sweep confirmed there were three, not two, men named Benjamin Walrond living in Virginia at that time. So I conducted a third research sweep about the new Benjamin Waldron. Then, I began analyzing my timeline. That analysis led me to identify several important proof points:
  1. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., was born before 1765.
  2. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., married Elizabeth MNU between 1775-1780.
  3. Benjamin Walrond (who married Elizabeth Jennings) was born about 1775.
  4. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., was born in 1777.
  5. Anna Maria Walrond was born about 1782.
  6. Elizabeth (MNU) Walrond, died before 1788.
  7. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., married Lucy Ellington on 6 August 1788 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
  8. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., married Patsey Wiley on 28 March 1796.
  9. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., married Martha "Patsy" Owen on 2 April 1804 in Bedford County, Virginia.
  10. John W. Jennings, Sr., married Anna Mariah Walrond on 19 January 1805 in Bedford County.
  11. Elizabeth Jennings married Benjamin Walrond on 11 January 1810 in Powhatan County, Virginia.
  12. There were three men named Benjamin Walrond, who lived in Lynchburg, Bedford County, and Chesterfield County, Virginia when the 1810 census was enumerated.
  13. Benjamin Jennings, Sr., wrote his will on 27 March 1815 in Powhatan County, Virginia. In it he listed Elizabeth Walrond; Dorothea Pemberton; Benjamin Jennings, Jr.; Daniel, Edward, John, James, and Patsy as his heirs.
  14. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., likely died before the 1820 census was enumerated.
  15. Two men named Benjamin Walrond, who lived in Bedford County and Chesterfield County, were enumerated in the 1820 census.
  16. No evidence was discovered that indicated Benjamin Walrond, Sr., divorced Lucy Ellington before 1810.
  17. No evidence was discovered that indicated Benjamin Walrond, Jr., divorced Martha "Patsy" Owen before 1810.
  18. Lucy (Ellington) Walrond died in 1821.
  19. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., died in 1839.
  20. Martha "Patsy" (Owen) Walrond died in 1840.
Courtesy of
Courtesy of


There were three men named Benjamin Walrond who lived in Virginia in 1810; the year Elizabeth Jennings married a Benjamin Walrond. This was the big revelation! So which one did she marry?

My conclusion was Benjamin Walrond Sr. was first married to a woman named Elizabeth; her maiden name is not known to this day. She was the mother of Benjamin Walrond, Jr., born in 1777 and Anna Maria Waldrond, born about 1782. Elizabeth (MNU) died about 1787. Benjamin Walrond, Sr., then married Lucy Ellington in 1788. They were married until he died sometime before 1820. They lived in Lynchburg in 1810. Therefore, he was married to Lucy when Elizabeth Jennings married a Benjamin Walrond in January 1810.

Benjamin Walrond, Jr. was married to Patsey Wiley in 1796. She apparently died or they divorced before 1804 when Benjamin Jr. married Martha "Patsy" Owen from 1804. They were married until his death in 1839. Benjamin Walrond, Jr., lived in Bedford County when the 1810 and 1820 census were enumerated. Therefore, neither father or son could have married Elizabeth Jennings in 1810.

The Benjamin Walrond who married Elizabeth Jennings and lived in Chesterfield County when the 1810 and 1820 census were enumerated. His parents are not known nor is it known if there is any relationship between him and Benjamin Walrond, Sr., and Benjamin, Walrond, Jr.

John W. Jennings, Sr., was a son of Benjamin Jennings because he was listed as an heir, along with his other siblings, in Benjamin Jennings, Sr.'s will; and Ben Jennings was listed as his father on his death registration. He did not marry his niece!

These are complicated relationships to explain in words so I created a diagram;
made using Microsoft PowerPoint

I reached out to a very knowledgeable Walrond researcher, who sent me all her notes and source document transcriptions for the three men named Benjamin Walrond. She confirmed there were three men named Benjamin Walrond who lived in Virginia during the critical time period and helped me sort out where each one lived. She also stated the three men named Benjamin Walrond used the Sr. and Jr. suffixes interchangeably, or did not use them at all, which explained away many of the contradictions in the records.

So I met a wonderful new research collaborator -- my 5th cousin once removed -- learned the name of another 4 times great grandfather (Benjamin Walrond, Sr.), solidified previous research, and was able to identify the common shared ancestor of a few more DNA matches because I had worked so hard on the Walrond/Waldron line. It was a good exercise!

[1]Not included at the time of analysis were record transcriptions I later received from a Walrond researcher. The timeline now includes over 200 documented facts about the relevant members of the Jennings and Walrond families.

[2] MNU = Maiden name unknown.

I wrote extensively about the descendants of John William Jennings, Sr. and his wife, Anna Maria Walrond/Waldron, in 2015.