Women Ancestors and Sad Stories: Porter, Ewing and Lindsay

While researching ancestors, I find one of the biggest challenges is to find any information on the women who are related to me. I usually can uncover some clues on the men through tax records, land records, wills, etc. However, women had little rights and written records on many of them seem to be scarce. Mostly you have to depend on bits of information from researching the men they were associated with, like fathers, brothers and husbands. I was continuing my research on the Porter and Ewing lines for Capt. Robert S. Porter and his wife Margaret Lindsay with a focus on the women in the family.

Robert Porter was the only son and child of Andrew Porter and Eleanor Ewing who were my 7th Great-grandparents. His parents were Scot-Irish immigrants from the province of Ulster, Ireland in the1700’s. Eleanor Ewing was my first challenge but I found her parents who were Alexander Ewing and Rebeckah _____. (You can read more about them here: The Ewing Clan in History and Legend: Of Eagles Wings.) Eleanor Ewing was born about or before 1721 and we can assume she got married to Andrew Porter between the age of fifteen and eighteen before 1737. Their son, Robert Porter was born around 1737-1738. Her father, Alexander Ewing wrote his will in about the same year of 1738 when Eleanor gave birth to son Robert but Alexander had all his children named in his will EXCEPT Eleanor! It is believed that Eleanor died before her father wrote his will. It is believed that she died in childbirth or shortly thereafter from complications of childbirth. Further evidence of her death is that her husband Andrew remarried shortly afterward to Margaret Leiper. Robert was raised by his step-mother Margaret and with six half-siblings. Now I have a good idea what happened to Eleanor, wife of Andrew Porter and why her records were non-existent after 1738!

When this Robert Porter grew up, he married a Margaret Lindsay. Finding information on Margaret Lindsay led to another challenge! Their marriage record was a start of the paper trail. They were married 27 May 1764 in Pennsylvania.

Marriage Record of Robert Porter and Margaret Lindsay (Pennsylvania Compiled Marriage Records)

The AGBI (American Genealogical-Biographical Index) database listed Margaret Lindsay as being born in 1740 but another record places her birth as 1745. No where was there a listing of her parents. After searching through several Lindsays in that time period and in Pennsylvania, I found a will of James Lindsay who named a daughter “Margaret Porter” in his will and he lived in Middletown, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

Excerpt from will of James Lindsay naming daughter Margaret Porter (Delaware, Pennsylvania Will Book )
Gravestone of James Lindsay

This James Lindsay was born in South Leith, Midlothian, Scotland to William Lindsay and Agnes Broun according to his baptism records. He was born 03 Dec 1798 and baptized 05 Dec 1798. He immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1725 and settled there as tax records indicate. He married a woman named Elizabeth according to his will and some believe her surname may have been Ewing. James lived to 1792 and died at about 83-84 years old. He was buried in Middletown Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Elwyn, Delaware, PA. No record of his wife’s death has been found although she was still living when his will was probated in May of 1792. I assume she was buried in the same cemetery as her husband.

I believe it is quite possible that this James Lindsay and Elizabeth are parents of Margaret Lindsay who married Robert Porter. The time periods match and her birth in Pennsylvania matches. James naming a daughter as Margaret Porter in his will is also good evidence. The fact that James was a Scot and Presbyterian points to his association with the Scot-Irish community of which the Porters were a part of. The Scots-Irish tended to settled together in communities with friends, neighbors, and families they immigrated with or knew before. It was a close community with many intermarriages. One more piece of the puzzle is that Margaret and Robert named one of their sons James Lindsay Porter, presumably after her father!

Now that I believe I have identified Margaret’s parents, let’s see what happened to her. Her husband Robert Porter was first a Lieutenant and then a Captain in the Revolutionary War and is listed as a DAR ancestor (#A091290). In the DAR records, Robert was born circa 1740 in Pennsylvania and died in 1781 in Montgomery County, Virginia. This correlates with our Robert Porter and he fought in the Battle of Point Pleasant and had settled in Virginia. His ancestors listed include Andrew Porter, his son and our direst ancestor. (More on this Andrew Porter to come!) Note that Robert died in 1781 making him only about 41 or 42 years of age! It is possible that Robert may have been killed or died from injuries sustained in the War as he was so young at death.

Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783: Capt. Robert Porter’s Name on upper right.

So this left Margaret Lindsay Porter a young widow with eight children. The youngest child, James Lindsay Porter, was only one or two years old when his father died and the oldest child was probably about 17 or 18. At least three of the children married and moved to Blount County, Tennessee and Margaret moved there also – maybe with one of her children’s families. There were no records found that Margaret remarried after Robert’s death.

The only other record I found for Margaret indicated that she may have had a sad ending indeed. Margaret was appointed a guardian in 1803 according to Blount County TN court records. The reason for appointing a guardian was that Margaret was in “state of insanity!” Now “insanity” at that time was a label for multiple kinds of conditions including dementia. In the settlement records of her guardianship at her death in 1811, eight years later, reveals her guardian was a William Gillespie who was over 80 years old at the time like Margaret. This begs the question why an 80 plus year old man was her guardian when she had a number of married children living in the same area?

Some questions of the past can and will never be answered! However, I am grateful that I was able to find and tell part of the stories of my women ancestors!

Sources:

  • Wills; Delaware, Pennsylvania; Will Book, Vol. A-B, 1789-1822; Case: 41; Date: 2 May 1791; James Lindsay
  • Scotland, Select Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operatons Inc., 2014.
  • Filby, P. William, ed. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s. Farmington Hills, MI.
  • Ancestry.com Pennsylvania, U. S. Compiled Marriage Records, 1700-1821 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2011.
  • Excerpts from Ewing Family Association: https://www.ewingfamilyassociation.org
  • U. S. Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.

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