Monday, April 9, 2018

The Elizabeth Beard First Cousins: Which Is Which?

In the post, The Several Elizabeth Beards, I described the popularity of the given name Elizabeth in the Beard family. Both John Beard (c1705-1780) and his son Adam Beard, Sr., (1725-1777) married women named Elizabeth though their maiden names are unknown. Adam Sr.'s sons, David, Samuel and Adam all named daughters Elizabeth as well. Each of these Elizabeths were born between 1773 and 1786 in Virginia, most likely in Bedford County. They were first cousins to each other.

Relationship between three first cousins named Betsy Beard; created using
Microsoft PowerPoint

I've known since I discovered Samuel Beard, his father Adam, Sr., and grandfather John Beard that there were three Betsys. I wasn't sure I had each Betsy Beard associated to the correct parents. It was a nagging worry I poked at from time to time but never felt I had definitely solved it until I found a Chancery Court cause that detailed the several children of Samuel Beard (1750-1814).

Elizabeth "Betsy" Beard #1, daughter of David Beard

I felt pretty good about the parents of this Betsy Beard. Her parents, David and Isabella (Carson) Beard had removed to Sumner County, Tennessee, by late 1700s. Elizabeth married Orman Allen on 20 April 1795 in Sumner County. I believe he had been married previously. One daughter, Ann, was born to he and Betsy and he added a codicil to his will, originally written in 1803, to include this daughter. Orman's will was proved on 7 April 1805 and it is possible Betsy married King Carr afterwards. If so, they had three sons. The woman I believe to be Elizabeth "Betsy" (Beard) Allen Carr, lived with her son John Carr in Macon County, Tennessee, when the 1850 census was enumerated. My assumption is she died after that but before the 1860 census was taken.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Beard #2, daughter of Samuel Beard

This Betsy would be my four times great aunt if I had the correct Betsy associated to my four times great grandfather Samuel Beard. I believed this Betsy was born on 22 June 1782 and married Rufus Thomas on 18 May 1815 in Bedford County. Rufus died in February 1850 and Betsy #2 died sometime after the 1860 census was enumerated.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Beard #3, daughter of Adam Beard

This Betsy was born about 1780 and married John B. Witt on 12 January 1815. Like her cousin, Betsy #2, Betsy #3 lived in Bedford County her entire life and died in April 1850. After he death, her widower married Elizabeth (Goggin) Field, daughter of Samuel Goggin and widow of Samuel Field (or Fields).

Recently, I read From Slaves to Satellites: 250 Years of Changing Times on a Virginia Farm by Peter Viemeister, which disagreed with my "definitive" linkages of the three first cousins named Elizabeth Beard to the correct father. He believed the Betsy Beard who married Rufus Thomas was Adam's daughter, not Samuel's. Here's what he had to say in his book:

"As one generation died, a new one was beginning. John's grandson Adam Beard Jr., brother of Samuel, married neighbor Margaret Mitchell[1] in 1780 and started having children. They continued a family tradition: in June 1782, when a daughter was born, they named her Elizabeth. This Elizabeth Beard, who became known as Eliza[2], will be an important figure in our story...

...As the Nation was being born, Adam, Jr., died. He left two small daughters. His widow Margaret was 'with child' when he died, and daughter Eliza was barely five years old.

Young Adam, Jr., had prospered with 17 slaves and hundreds of acres of land. His will appointed brother Samuel as Executor and directed that all of his land was to be sold.

Little Eliza had lost her father. Her grandfather, Adam, and her great grandfather, John, were also gone. The most significant man remaining in her life was then Uncle Samuel. If her father's land were sold, where would she, her siblings, and her mother live? Widow Margaret and children could have remained where they were; Samuel appeared in no rush to implement the sale of brother Adam's assets...

...When Eliza Beard was 15, ten years after her father Adam, Jr., had died, her father's land was finally sold. Uncle Samuel bought some of it. Again, we can suspect that her uncle made it possible for Adam's family to stay where they had always been...

...It's unclear when Eliza'a mother died, but we do know that her special uncle, Samuel, died about 1814. His widow, Mary, would live on for twenty-five more years, receiving a pension for Samuel's contributions during the Revolution. When they put Samuel to rest, Eliza was just beginning her third decade of life but now with no uncle, no father, no grandfather, no husband. She would soon have a man of her own: Rufus Thomas, a man who began life in 1776, the same year the United States of America began its life...In May 1815 Rufus, then 38, married 32-year-old Eliza Beard. Her cousin, John Bard, posted surety bond for her."

Who's Right?

After reviewing my sources for Elizabeth "Betsy" Beard #2 and #3, I believe I am right for two reasons:

DAR Lineage Books
The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Lineage books indicates this is not the case. It provides the following lineage:

Snippet from Lineage Book of Charter DAR Members, Vol. 43;
courtesy of

Bedford County Chancery Cause 1852-049
When Samuel Beard's wife, Mary died in 1843, her eldest son and executor, James Harvey Beard, filed a bill of complaint in Chancery court.[4] He wanted to sell Mary's property so he could distribute the proceeds to his mother's heirs but had lost track of two siblings: Robert Mitchell and Mary "Polly" Beard. They had married siblings -- Nancy C. Webb and Bird S. Webb. Robert Mitchell Beard predeceased his mother and his widow and children had joined Bird and Polly's family when they migrated west to Monroe County, Missouri. The plaintiffs in the case were the heirs who James knew their locations and the defendants were those heirs whose whereabouts were unknown. All the heirs were listed.

Heirs of Mary (Mitchell) Beard; created using Microsoft Excel

I do not believe Mary's executor would consider a niece an heir rather than a living daughter. So I have determined that Peter Viemeister is incorrect.

What do you think?

[1] Margaret Mitchell was the daughter of Robert "the Elder" Mitchell and Mary Enos and was a sister to Mary Mitchell who married Adam Beard Jr.'s brother, Samuel.
[2] I have found no document in which she is referred to as Eliza but will continue to use the nickname to differentiate her from her Betsy cousins.
[3] Virginia Belle Thomas died in 1957 in the Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia, having never married.
[4] See The Court Case Regarding the Slaves of Mary (Mitchell) Beard.

The Several Elizabeth Beards
Who's Your Daddy, Adam Beard?
The Court Case Regarding the Slaves of Mary (Mitchell) Beard

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