The Burch Family of Amherst County VA

Since I had been focusing on the Phillips family lately, I decided to research more into the related Burch Family lineage.  Nancy Jane Burch was married to Oscar F Phillips ad they were my second great-grandparents.  Nancy was the daughter of Stephen A Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel, my third greats!  Researching this Burch family was a challenge and I still am left with questions!  You can read more about the Phillips family here: A Family of Phillips! 

Stephen Burch was born about 1786 in Fauquier County, Virginia and was the son of Leonard Burch and Monokey Guy Webster – yes, her name was “Monokey” according to many of the records.  Her mother’s maiden name was Mary Guy so that is where the “Guy” came in.   Stephen’s father, Leonard, was listed in the Fauquier County tax list in 1788 as was Leonard’s father, John Burch Sr and two of Leonard’s brothers named John Burch Jr and Francis Burch.   More on them will be coming in another post.  After about 1796, Leonard Burch moved his family, including 10 year old Stephen, to Amherst County, Virginia.  By 1801, all the Burch brothers lived in Amherst County.  It was quite a long move as shown by the two maps of the counties!

Fauquier Co VA 001      Amherst Co VA 001

I found that Stephen had at least two sisters named Ann and Nancy and one brother named Simeon.  Ann died about age 4.  Stephen and his brother Simeon were sometimes confused with each other in some family histories but Simeon was born in 1790, 4 years after Stephen.  Solving the mystery of the name of Stephen’s wife was another challenge as some records stated that her name was Elizabeth Miller and not McDaniel.   Census records just listed her as “Betsey Burch” with Betsey being a common nickname for Elizabeth.

There is a marriage record for Stephen Burch and Eliza Miller in 1813 in Amherst VA but this is probably not our Stephen Burch.   Evidence that Elizabeth’s birth name was McDaniel comes from several sources including the death certificate of their son, James Marshall Burch, which names his parents as Stephen Burch and Elizabeth McDaniel.  In the Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index, the death record for Stephen listed him as married to “Elizabeth McDaniel.”  Finally, John McDaniel and Margaret Rucker McDaniel, likely Elizabeth’s parents, were neighbors of the Burch family according to the 1850 Agricultural Census so it is likely that Stephen knew Elizabeth as a neighbor and married her.

Stephen and Betsey Burch had about 15 children that they raised in Amherst County, Virginia.  I was able to find information on most of them.  One son died at age 22 years of typhoid fever and another son died at age 20 of brain fever.  One daughter, Soluda, was classified on the 1850 Census as an “idiot” as she must have had some type of mental disability.  I found out that census enumerators used the term “idiot” for “a person the development of whose mental faculties were arrested in infancy or childhood before coming to maturity.”  For us, in a more enlightened age, a number of known disabilities would have fallen in this category, including Down’s Syndrome.  Soluda was born in 1830, never married, and lived to 1890.  It is not known where she lived after her parents died.

There are census records for Stephen Burch from 1820 to 1840, but the most information about the family comes from the later census of 1850.  In 1850 the entire family was living in the household of a man named Madison Davis, age 40, who was a dentist and owned a large farm.   It appears that Stephen and his sons worked the farm for Davis.  Madison may have been related somehow to the Burch family.  Also the Agricultural Census of 1850 listed Stephan as also owning a small farm of  his own but he was less well off that most of his 40 some neighbors as the farm was only worth about $200 and about $7 worth of farm implements.  He also owned one horse, one milk cow, and nine swine and his farm produce 10 bushels of wheat and 200 bushels of Indian corn.  He owned no slaves.

Ten years later, in 1860, things did not improve much and 74 year old Stephen was still a farmer but owned no real estate and must have rented a farm and his personal estate was only $150 value.   Worse yet, his wife, Betsey Burch, died in 1860 of unknown causes.  He now had one horse, two milk cows, three other cattle, two swine for a total livestock value of $100.  He also produced 35 bushels of wheat, 125 bushels of Indian corn, 25 bushels of oats, and 350 pounds of tobacco.  The next year brought more woes to the widower Stephen as the Civil War began and his sons and sons-in-laws were of age to join the fight.

Three of Stephen’s sons enlisted the same day, 29 June 1861, in Company G of the Virginia 51st Infantry Regiment to fight for the Confederacy.  Most likely the three brothers, James Marshall Burch, Fielding Burch and Milton Burch wanted to stay together.   Their brother-in-law, George Washington Moon, who married Caroline Burch, also joined the 51st.   Their sister Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie) Burch had married Benjamin S Phillips (who was the son of my 2nd great-grandfather, Capt. Benjamin Phillips)  and Ben enlisted in Co. H of the Virginia Artillery.  Benjamin either died in battle or as a result of war injuries, disease or other causes, shortly after 1861 leaving Lizzie a widow.

James Marshall was engaged in 25 engagements and wounded five times and Fielding lost the use of his left hand.   Milton was discharged in January 1865 after being disabled.  The 51st Virginia saw duty in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign, Virginia Valley Campaign, Richmond, Petersburg, eastern Tennessee, and the Battle of Manassas.  From what I found, “on March 2, 1865, the battered, depleted and severely outnumbered 51st Virginia and the rest of Wharton’s division was overwhelmed by Sheridan’s Federal Cavalry under Gen. George Custer at Waynesboro, VA.  The majority of the regiment was captured and sent to Fort Delaware or Elmira NY as prisoners (until the war was over).”

The Burch family was truly involved in the Civil War and the War certainly changed the lives of all of them!  After the war, Stephen Burch was missed in the 1870 Census although he was still living.  He died 10 Dec 1875 in Pedlar and Elon, Amherst County, VA at age 89.  According to Find A Grave, the body of Stephen has been lost or destroyed and believed to be buried at the Clarence Davis Cemetery on the Davis Farm.  This must be the farm that Stephen managed for Madison Davis in 1850.  It is very possible that Betsey McDaniel Burch may be buried in the same cemetery.  Find A Grave information:

Capture.PNG clarence Davis cemetery

In the next post, I hope to write more on the Burch family including the children of Stephen and Betsey.   There are some very interesting stories to be told!


  • Huffman, Jon E. The John and Nancy (Burch) Nichols Family, published online, 2008; Pages: 1-7.
  • Year 1850; Census Place: Eastern, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M432_933; Page: 89B; Image: 180.
  • Census Year: 1850; Census Place: Eastern District, Amherst, Virginia; Archive Collection Number: T1132; Roll: 1; Page: 176; Line: 18; Schedule Type: Agriculture.
  • Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Roll: M653_1332; Page: 252; FHL film: 805332.
  • Census Year: 1860; Census Place: Amherst, Virginia; Archive Collection Number: T1132; Roll: 5; Page: 9; Line: 10; Schedule Type: Agriculture.
  • The Family of James Marshall Burch of Lynchburg, VA: Information About James Marshall Burch; User Trees.
  • Historical Data Systems comp. U. S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.
  • Find A Grave,; citing George Washington Moon; Memorial 88518360.
  • NARA M324.  Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers from Virginia Units, 1861.
  • Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2011;  Also: FHL film 2,056,972.
  • Virginia Marriages 1785-1940, database, FamilySearch.

Phillips Family: Brothers and Sisters

In the last post, I wrote what I have found on the “mysterious” Captain Benjamin Allen Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey, my 3rd great grandparents.  You can see their story here: The Mysterious Captain Phillips

I had been unable to find parentage for either of them and decided to research their children in case I could find some clues to the mystery.   This was in vain.  However, what I did find were some interesting stories that were just begging to be told.  After all, every one of the ancestors I find has a story, some more revealing and colorful than others, but stories to be told after all.  These are some stories I found about my 3rd great aunts and uncles!

The first child of Capt Benjamin Phillips and Mary Cazey was Maria Ann Phillips who was born in 1811 in Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia.  I did know that Benjamin and Mary were married in 1811 also and Maria’s birthplace tells me their residence at that particular time although they were married in Henrico County VA. Phillips, Maria, marr, 1834, Lynchburg VA 001 Luckily, I found a marriage announcement from the Lynchburg Virginian newspaper from Monday, June 16 1834 (page 3) revealing that Maria had married James William Oliver!  James was a plasterer by trade and they lived in the Lynchburg area.  I found a record of eight children for the couple but the marriage years must have had some rough times as two of their daughters died quite young.  Amanda Oliver died at age 12 and Mary E Oliver died at age 10 – both from unknown causes.   Harriet Oliver, born 1835, did not have a death date or other information so may have also died young.  Their son Benjamin died at about 15 or 16 years old.  Other children were Richard Monroe Oliver, William H Oliver, James M Oliver and Frances Indianna Oliver.  Maria’s husband, James, passed in 1878 and Maria passed in 1880 at the home of her daughter Frances.

Phillips, Eliz Akers, grave, 1842, Lynchburg VA 001Elizabeth Ann Phillips was the second child of Capt Benjamin and Mary Phillips and was born in 1815.  Elizabeth married Peter Garrett Akers on 29 June 1836 and they had two known children, Charles Edward Akers and Elizabeth C Akers.  Sadly, this marriage did not escape tragedy either!  The year after her daughter was born, Elizabeth herself passed away on 15 March 1842 at the young age of 27!  She died after a painful illness of eight months at her father’s residence.  Elizabeth was buried in the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg VA.

Benjamin and Mary Phillips’ third child was also a daughter, Mary Catherine, born in August of 1819 in Lynchburg.  She married a trader named Francis Smithson and they had at least one son named Darius.  However, it seems things did not go well for Mary Catherine!  When she was 50 years old, it was noted on the 1870 Census for the family that she was classified as “insane!”  Now this could be a generalized term applied for many disorders.  It was also noted that she could not read or write.   Ten years later, I found Mary Catherine as widowed and in 1900, she lived with her sister Caroline Phillips Ford and was 80 years old.  None of the other census records noted any insanity for Mary and she died in 1905 at age 84.

The first son of Benjamin and Mary was their 4th child, Benjamin S Phillips, who was born in 1820 or 1822.  This son married Sarah Elizabeth Burch, who was also called “Lizzie Burch.”  They were married on 27 Jan 1859, just before the Civil War.  Now the Phillips family in interrelated with the Burch family so Benjamin S and Lizzie may have been cousins.  Interesting that Ben was 37 and Lizzie was 22 at the time of marriage – a difference of 15 years!  When the Civil War began, Ben enlisted in the Confederate Army and served in the 1st Regiment of the Virginia Artillery, Company H.  I found one son of theirs named Henry Clay Phillips.  All I could discover about his death was that Benjamin died after 1861 which makes me wonder if his death had anything to do with his service during the War.

Frances J Phillips was another daughter of Capt Benjamin and Mary and was born in 1830.  There may have been another unnamed son born before her but this is not verified.  Frances married Edward J Taylor in 1850 and they lived in Lynchburg also.  Little is found about Frances except that in 1880 she was a widow and living with a cousin in Powellton, Brunswick County, VA.  She died 9 July 1885 in Lynchburg at about age 55.

Phillips, Caroline, picture 001Although it was difficult to find a lot of information of the above siblings, I struck a bonus with the next daughter, Caroline Agnes L Phillips!  Caroline was born in January of 1831 and married Simeon Walter Ford on 14 Dec 1849 in Lynchburg when she was 18 years old.  Simeon Ford, according to the 1880 census, was a Yard Master for the Railroad.  I found eight children of Caroline and Simeon Ford including: John Ford (1853-?); Ella Ford (1853-1904, possible twin of John); Anna Alice Ford (1855-1893); James Ford (1856-1870); Alpheus Marcellus Augustus Ford ( 1856-1870, possible twin with James); Thomas Ford (1859-?); Mary Lillian Ford (1860-1941); and Simeon Walter Ford, Jr. (1862-1941).  This last son, Simeon Jr.,  married a first cousin, Nannie Belle Phillips, the daughter of Oscar F Phillips, Caroline’s brother and I wrote their story in another blog.  You can check it out here: Simeon and Nannie Belle Ford – A Surprising Couple!

One surprise on the 1880 Census for Elon, Amherst County VA where they lived (near Lynchburg) is that Caroline and Simeon had an adopted son who was five years old in 1880 and named Blucher Ford.  Blucher died in 1899 at age 24 of unknown causes.  Phillips, Caroline Ford, obit, 1904, Mad Hts, VA 001Caroline Ford died as a widow on 26 Feb 1904 at age 65 and she died at home after an illness of two months.  According to her obit, Caroline “bore her sufferings with Christian resignation and fortitude.”  Her son, Alpheus, arranged her burial and paid $40 for her casket and another $10 for 2 hacks (?) for a total of $50 which he paid in cash.  That was a good deal of money for that era!

Ford, Alpheus & Susie St Claire , picture 001
Son of Caroline Phillips and Simeon Ford

Son of Caroline and Simeon, Alpheus Marcellus Augustus Ford,  will be remembered for his unusual name and was quite a character.  He married a Susie St. Claire and they had about 6 children.  Alpheus died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1937.   Without going too far into researching collateral ancestors, I did find some interesting  things about a couple of Alpheus and Susie’s children.

Ford, Ralph, picture 001One of their sons named Ralph Michael Ford died at age 48 and the cause of death was a sub-dura hematoma due to a fracture of the left temperal bone. According to the death certificate, his death was ruled a homicide as the injury was sustained in a fist fight!  He died at age 48 in 1950.  That had to be quite a fight!  I did search for newspaper articles or other information on his death but have not found anything as yet.



Ford, Simeon W Jr in WWI Uniform 001Another son of Alpheus and Susie was named Simeon W Ford after his grandfather and he served in WWI.  I was lucky to happen upon a picture of him in his WWI uniform!

Of course there are more stories of the Fords that will have to wait for another day.

Going back to the children of Capt Benjamin Phillips and Mary Cazey, their last child was my second great-grandfather, Oscar Fitzallen Phillips.  Oscar was born in 1832 and married Nancy Jane Burch, the daughter of Stephen Burch and Elizabeth Miller McDaniel.   I have written a post of their history and  you can find their family story here: A Family of Phillips!  

All in all this was quite an interesting family!


  • Virginia, Marriages 1785-1940.  Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013; FHL film 32235; Page: 50 & 56.
  • Find A Grave for Elizabeth A Phillips Akers; Memorial # 98257231;
  • Year: 1870; Census Place: Lynchburg, Henry Ward, Campbell, Virginia; Roll: M593_1638; Page: 490A; FHL film 553137.
  • Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940; Indexing Project (batch) number: M86877-9; System Origin: Virginia-EASy; Source film number: 32268; reference number: Page 11-5.
  • National Park Service.  U. S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865 [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2007.
  • Year: 1880; Census Place: Elon, Amherst, Virginia; Roll: 1353; Page: 199A; Enumeration District: 018.
  • Diuguid’s Note of deceased for bural of Caroline A Ford; Diuguid Funeral Home, Lynchburg, Virginia.
  • Virginia Department of Health; Richmond Virginia; Virginia Deaths, 1912-2014.

The Mysterious Captain Phillips

Phillips, Capt Ben, picture 001
Capt Benjamin Allen Phillips

Some times researching ancestors can be quite challenging as is the case for my third great-grandparents, Captain Benjamin Allen Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey!  They were the parents of Oscar Fitzallen Phillips who married Nancy Burch.  Oscar and Nancy’s daughter Cora Virginia Phillips and her husband, William Domman Swanson were my grandmother Cammie Swanson Lyons’ parents.  Cammie Swanson and Clarence Lyons were, of course, my father’s parents.  So I was able to go back all these generations from my father up to Captain Phillips and Mary Cazey but then the mystery began!

The story of Capt. Benjamin Phillips starts with his birth in 1777 in Henrico County, Virginia – born during the Revolutionary War.  I was able to calculate his birth year from his age on the 1860 Federal Census where he was listed as age 83.  Find A Grave also listed his birth as 1777.  However, who were his parents?  Here I hit a brick wall.  Oh yes there were some leads from Ancestry trees but none could be proved – no sources or evidence.  No wills or deeds were found as yet.  Sometimes one can research the wife or children or siblings to get clues of parentage but after researching the Mary Nicholas Cazey and their children, I was still unable to identify any parents of Capt. Benjamin!  Of course, without knowing the parents, I couldn’t find any siblings either.

Mary Nicholas Cazey was born about 1795 probably in Henrico County also but her parents are also a mystery!  Some Ancestry trees claim her father as James Singleton Kazey but upon investigation, I found that James Kazey did have a daughter Mary but his will named his daughter as Mary Martin, not Phillips.   No sources or proofs were documented in the Ancestry trees either.  So I have two mysteries to solve so I can identify any fourth great-grandparents in these two lines.

Luckily, the marriage of Benjamin Phillips and Mary Nicholas Cazey is well documented!  They were married on 4 Feb 1811 in Henrico County, Virginia.  Mary Cazey was just 16 years old at the time and Benjamin was about 34 years old, over twice her age.  A man named Joseph Palmer, surety, attested to the ages of both and Mary’s residence.    Also in 1811, their first child, Maria Ann Phillips, was born.

Soon after the marriage and the birth of Maria, Benjamin enlisted or was inducted into the U. S. Army and served during the War of 1812 where he rose to the rank of Captain.  Now finding his military records was another problem!  Clearly I have some serious digging to do as I am unable to find military records for him as yet!  Another mystery!  It is possible that he served until about 1814 or so as their second child, Elizabeth A Phillips was born in 1815.   Elizabeth died at age 27 in 1842 of unknown causes.

The third child was also a daughter, Mary Catherine Phillips, born 1819.   I also found a record of a son born in 1821 and died in 1837 at age 16 – another mystery as this son was unnamed!  Another son, Benjamin S Phillips was born in 1822, daughters Frances J Phillips in 1828 and Caroline Agnes Phillips in 1831 and the last child, Oscar Fitzallen Phillips in 1832 (my 2nd great-grandfather- see his story on A Family of Phillips!).

By 1830, the Phillips family was living in Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia with 9 persons in the household which included a female slave over age 55.  In 1840 there were 11 people in the household.  One was an employed free “colored” female between the ages of 24 and 35 and 2 others were young slaves – a male and a female both under 10.  Possibly they were the children of the free female employee.

The 1850 census give a glimpse of the Phillips family as it lists the names, ages and relationships for the first time in the census forms.  Benjamin Phillips is age 67 and is a carpenter by trade and Mary, his wife, is 52.  If her age is correct in this record, perhaps she was born in 1798 but this doesn’t seem likely as she would have been only 13 at the time of marriage, not 16.   Son, Benjamin S, age 26, is a “plaisterer” or plasterer and Oscar, 18, is a “moulder” (molder in an iron factory).  Frances J, 20, also lives at home.

Cazey. Mary Phillips, funeral, 1857, newspaper 001On the 17 May 1857, Mary Nicholas Cazey Phillips passed away of unknown causes.  Son Benjamin helped to arrange the funeral and burial.  The funeral notice and obituary was published in a local paper.


Phillips, Mary N Cazey, Obit, 1857 VA 001

According to the burial record for Mary, her son Benjamin made a cash down payment of $10 for the services and then a final payment of the another $10.  The Diuguid Funeral Home in Lynchburg has a record of her burial.  During my research, I found several of my ancestors used the services of this funeral home including my great-grandfather, William Domman Swanson.

Phillips, Mary N Cazey, bural record 001
Mary’s record is the third entry down.

After his wife’s death, Capt. Benjamin lived with his grandson, Robert Taylor, in 1860.  Robert Taylor was the son of Benjamin and Mary’s daughter Frances who married Edward Taylor.  Robert was 28 and a moulder in an iron factory and his wife Catherine was 22 and daughter Sallie was one year old.  They lived in the Eastern District of Campbell County which was near Lynchburg.

001Three years later, on 11 Mar 1863, Capt. Benjamin died in the home of his grandson, O. T. Phillips, in Amherst County VA.   I still haven’t determined which of Benjamin’s sons had a son named O. T. Phillips.  Capt. Benjamin was 86 years old and still working as a carpenter at the time of his passing.   It was noted that he was a War of 1812 veteran.  He was buried in the Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg City where his wife was also buried.

Phillips, Capt Ben, grave, 1863, Lynchburg VA 001
Grave of Capt. Benjamin Allen Phillips
Cazey, Mary N Phillips, grave, 1857, Lynchburg VA 001 (2)
Grave of Mary N Phillips, Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg VA

That’s the story so far of my mysterious Captain Phillips and Mary Cazey!  I did find some interesting stories of their children to share in the next blog so check in again!


  • 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Ben A Phillips; Eastern District, Campbell, Virginia; Sheet: 35; Family: 277; Line: 3; Image: 238.
  • Dodd, Jordan R., et al., Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850.  Bountiful, UT, USA; Precision Indexing Publishers; also: Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry .com Operations Inc. 1999.
  • Pollack, Michael E.; Marriage Bonds of Henrico County, Virginia, 1782-1853.  Baltimore MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co. 1984, p. 127.
  • Year: 1830; Census Place: Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia; Series: 19; Roll: 194; Page: 342; FHL film: 0029673.
  • Year; 1840; Census Place: Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia; Roll: 553; Rage: 41; Image: 716; FHL film: 0029684.
  • Year: 1850; Census Place: Lynchburg, Campbell, Virginia; Roll: M432_938; Page: 74A; Image: 151.
  • Find A Grave for Mary N Phillips, Memorial # 160388487;
  • Find A Grave for CPT Benjamin A Phillips, Memorial # 160388530;


Sophie’s Story

Week 22 of #52Ancestors:   At the Cemetery

This week I am going to switch gears and delve into a story of one little girl, Sophie Katherine Pawlak, from my husband’s family.  Sophie was the sister to Charles Pawlak, my husband’s father.  In order to tell her story,  I need to start  with her parents who bravely traveled to America from Poland, Stephan (Szczepan) Pawlak and Blanche (Bronislawa) Nowicka.

Stephan (Szczepan) Pawlak was born 10 Nov 1877 in Radlowek, Kries Inowroclaw-Zacod, Poland in the sixth hour of the evening  and his birth was recorded 17 Nov of 1877.  His parents were Stellmacher Michael Pawlak and Catherina Sprzacakowska.  “Stellmacher” was a title meaning coachmaker or carpenter.  Stephan had three brothers, Andrew (Andrzej) Pawlak, John (Jan) Pawlak and Frank (Franciszek) Pawlak and he had one sister, Joanna Pawlak.

Bronislawa (Blanche) Nowicka was born 29 Aug 1883 in Koscielec, Kries Inowroclaw-Zachod, Poland in the tenth hour in the morning and her birth was recorded 29 August 1883.  Her father, Michael Nowicki, was titled “Kutscher” meaning “Coachdriver” and her mother was Thecla Zielinska.

Pawlak, Thecla Nowicka, pic 001
Nowicki, Michal, father of Bronislawa Pawlak 001
Michael Nowicki

Blanche, as she was known in the U. S., was the youngest of 8 or 9 children.  Her brothers were Stanislaw (Stanley), Wladyslaw (Walter), Wictor (Victor) and sisters were Maryanna, Stanislawa, Leonora, Anastazya, and possibly Eleanora Apollina (may be same person as Leonora).  A brother, Franiscus (Francis) died of debility at 13 days old in 1878.  Sadly, Blanche’s mother and father both died when Blanche was not quite 4 years old.  Her mother, Thecla, died 18 May 1887 at age 35 of typhus in Koscielec, Poland.  About 3 weeks later, her father, Michael Nowicki,  died 10 June 1887 at age 50 of intestinal inflammation.  Blanche was raised by one of her older sisters.

On 8 July 1904, Stephan Pawlak and Bronislawa (Blanche) Nowicka married in Koscielec, Poland at the Catholic Church.  According to family stories, Stephan could speak four languages – Polish, German, French and English- and was inducted into the German Army because of his value as a translator.  However, Stephan and Blanche decided to travel to America under the pretense of taking a honeymoon (they did not plan to return to Poland).  They departed from Bremen, Germany on 1905 on the ship “Gera” with the destination of Milwaukee, WI.  Stephan was 27, listed as a joiner (carpenter) and from the province of Poznan.  He was carrying more than $50 and traveling with his wife, Bronislawa Pawlak, age 21, according to immigration records.  Blanche later talked about the ship cracking and creaking and she was pregnant with their first child.

Pawlak, Stephan, pass list, 1905, Gera 001
Passenger list from “Gera” 1905

They arrived on 26 January 1905 at the port of Baltimore, Maryland and traveled for 2 days to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to settle at 484 Bartlett Street.  Stanley, their first child was born on April 1, 1905.  Later came Edward in 1906,  Joseph in 1908, Clara in 1909, all born at 557 Bartlett Street.  All of them were baptized at St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church.

Pawlak, Stephan, picture, Becher ST home, Milw 001
2332 Becher St., Milwaukee WI

The family moved to 864 Becher Street (address changes later to 2332 Becher St. by City of Milwaukee) sometime between 1910 and 1913 where Sigmund was born in 1913 and Zofia Kataryzyna (Sophie Katherine) was born in 1914.  Their last child, Charles Daniel Michael (Karol Michal) was born in 1916 and was my husband’s father.  They were baptized at St. Adelbert’s Catholic Church.

This story is about Sophie.  Sophie Katherine Pawlak was born just before the end of the year on 29 December 1914, the sixth child of the seven children of Stephen and Blanche Pawlak.

Pawlak, Sofia, Baptism, 1915, St Adelbert, Milw
Baptism of Sophia Catherina at St. Adelbert’s Catholic Church, Milwaukee WI (in Latin)

In the early spring of 1917, Blanche became very ill and was unable to care for the children.  She had to leave the family for an extended period of time to seek treatment for possibly tuberculosis or a nervous breakdown.  It was, unfortunately, common for a person with TB to enter a sanitarium for an extended period of time for treatment in the early 1900s.  Stephan had to continue working as well as the oldest son, Stanley, to support the family.  The rest of the children – Edward, Joseph, Clara, Sigmund, Sophie and Charles- was placed in the Milwaukee County Home for Dependent Children in the Town of Wauwatosa (near Milwaukee).  This home provided temporary care for dependent children and orphans in Milwaukee County.  The children were placed in the home 10 April 1917 and when they arrived at the home, the boys and girls were separated.  Sophie was two years old and Charles just one year old.  Their father visited them as much as he could. Milw Co. Home for Dependent Children, Pawlak 001

Tragedy struck when Sophie contracted pneumonia in September 1917 and just 5 months and 12 days after arriving at the Home for Dependent Children, Sophie dies.  She was just 2 years, 8 months and 25 days old, a short life.  How heartbroken her mother must have been to not be with Sophie at this time!  The cause of death was listed as double migrative lobar pneumonia and convulsions due to toxemia.  Her parents and the other children went to her funeral at St. Adelbert Catholic Church and Sophie was buried in St. Adelbert’s Cemetery in Milwaukee, near Howard and 13th Street in the children’s section.   Over the years, her brothers and nephews made wooden crosses to mark her grave and added plaques to the crosses with her name and dates of her birth and death.  A new wooden cross was added from time to time.   She was not forgotten by the family.

However, a permanent marker was never purchased for her for some reason- until now.  My husband decided that Sophie must never be forgotten and since the last white cross was slowly becoming worn and delapitated, it was way past time for a new stone.  We purchased a marble grave marker with help from 2 cousins and it is now a permanent memorial for Sophie.  After 102 years, Sophie finally has her stone marker that will last long after those who remember her are gone.  Rest in peace little Sophie although you had a short life, you have been and are loved by many for a very long time!


(If you wish information on the numerous sources I used for this post, please contact me.)

Tribute to Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. – Revolutionary War Ancestor

Week 21 of #52Ancestors:  MilitaryCole, Joseph Jr, grave, 1826, Smyth VA 001

Last week’s post explored John Thomas who was the father of Thomas Jefferson Thomas who married Freelove Cole and they became my 5th great-grandparents.  This week I would like to write about Freelove Cole’s parents especially because Freelove’s father, Joseph Cole Jr, had served in the military.   He was in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War and was made Captain.  This Patriot ancestor fought in the famous Battle of Kings Mountain as a member of the Washington County, Virginia Militia and is registered with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as Ancestor #: A024196.

Joseph Cole Jr, also called Joseph Cole II, was born the 28th of May 1750 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts Colony according to the Massachusetts Town vital records.  When Joseph was born his father, Joseph Cole I (Sr), was 34 and his mother, Freelove Mason (Cole), was 29.  Joseph had at least eight known siblings including  Elizabeth Cole Hopkins, Joanna Cole, Hugh Cole, Urania Cole Round, Sampson Cole, Zacheus Cole, Lydia Cole Robinson and John Cole.  It must have made for a very busy family!

Cole, Joseph Jr, signature 001
Signature of Joseph Cole Jr on Religious Petition.

Joseph Cole married Remember Cole on 26 November 1769 in the Colony of New York and she was the daughter of Israel Cole III and Emary _____ and born in 1752 in Ulster Co. , New York Colony OR in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts Colony.   Some sources may list her mother as Remember Burgess but according to Mayflower Ancestor books, her mother was Emary ___.  Remember Cole also came from a large family with at least eight siblings including Thomas, Rufus, Eunice, Phillip, Mary and three other Coles.

Now you may be wondering why Remember was also a Cole – no, they were not related- she did have the same surname as Joseph but she came from a different Cole family!  Remember’s ancestors started with Daniel Cole, father of Israel I Cole, then down the line to Israel II and Israel III who was the father of Remember Cole.   (This Cole family also intermarried with the James family, making them our ancestors also!)  Joseph Cole Jr.’s ancestors started with a James Cole who was born in London ca1600 and immigrated to the American Colonies and was father of Hugh Cole I, then the line of Hugh Cole II and Hugh III and Joseph Cole Sr., father of Joseph Jr.

These two unrelated Cole families (descendants of James Cole and Daniel Cole) must have been great friends and companions as they embarked on a great journey together from Ulster Co., New York Colony to Washington Co., Virginia where they had received land grants in about 1773 or later.  More on that journey in a later post.

Joseph Jr and Remember Cole had three children together.  The first born was John William Cole who was born on 25 Dec 1771, Christmas Day, in Ulster, New York.  John William Cole was married twice and died in 1847 in Smyth Co., VA.  The second child of Joseph and Remember was Phillip King Cole and his birth year was 1773 in Ulster, Ulster Co., New York.  It that is the correct birth year, he may have been a twin to his sister, Freelove Cole, as the records indicate Freelove was born the same year on 24 Dec, Christmas Eve.  If so, that would have been three birthdays to celebrate during Christmas time!  Phillip King Cole married Rebecca English and they moved to Tennessee where Phillip died in 1860.  Freelove Cole is our direct ancestor and she and her mother, Remember Cole, are our lineage to Stephen Hopkins who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  If you want to read more about Freelove Cole, my 5th Great-grandmother, see here: Searching for “FREELOVE”

Sadly, Remember Cole, wife of Joseph Jr, died young in 1776 in Washington County, Virginia at about 24 years old, leaving three young children.  This was just after the migration of the Cole families from New York to Virginia.  Joseph Jr and Remember settled on the South Fork of the Holston River in Washington County (later Smyth Co.), VA.  If you recall, their daughter Freelove Cole married Thomas Jefferson Thomas.  My Thomas ancestors also lived on the South Fork of the Holston River. Holston River 001 See my last post here: Where did you come from, John Thomas?    We don’t know the cause of death for Remember but she was buried in the Church Cemetery of the Saint Clair Primitive Baptist Church  in what is now Chilhowie, Virginia.

Joseph Jr. Cole remarried in 1777 to Margaret Leeper and they had five children together including Andrew Cole, James “Squire” Cole, Remember Cole, Urania Cole and Samuel Cole.  Margaret Leeper was born 1750-52 in Augusta County, VA and lived to age 75 or 76, dying in 1826.  She was also buried in the Saint Clair Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Joseph Cole Jr. did join the Virginia Militia and on 1780 participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.  During the American Revolution, the Patriot irregulars under Col. William Campbell defeated the Tories under Maj. Patrick Ferguson.  Maj. Ferguson’s Tory force of mostly American Loyalists was the west wing of General Lord Cornwallis’ North Carolina invasion force.  One thousand American frontiersmen under Col. Campbell of Virginia gathered in the back country to pursue Ferguson who positioned his forces on King’s Mountain.  The Patriots charged multiple times displaying lethal marksmanship against the enemy.  “Ferguson led a suicidal charge down the mountain and was cut down in a hail of bullets.  The Tories suffered 157 men killed, 163 wounded and 698 captured while Campbell’s force suffered just 28 killed and 60 wounded.”  It was a decisive and much needed victory for the Patriots.  A monument was erected on the battle site with names of the officers.  Capt. Joseph Cole is the third name from the top of the monument.

Cole, Joseph Jr, monument, King's Mt, 1880 001

prim Baptist church cemetery 001
St. Clair Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. died 6 Sep 1826 in Washington (Smyth) Co., Virginia and was buried in Saint Clair Bottom Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.  His tombstone was recorded by Redmond Cole about 1926 but since that time, his tombstone had been destroyed or was missing.  A grave marker for Joseph was placed in the cemetery by a Dennis Stewart in 2005 and a memorial service was held to honor Joseph and his service to his country.  In a later year, a memorial service was also held for Hugh Cole, brother to Joseph, in this cemetery.  Joseph Cole Jr is also listed in the U. S. Veterans’ Gravesites, 1775-2006.

On this Memorial Day week, it is only fitting to remember those, ancestors or not, that fought for our freedom and served for our country.  Thank you to all!



  •; Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  • Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.
  • The Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol. IV [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc.
  • Find A Grave, database and images; citing Margaret Leeper Cole, Find A Grave Memorial No. 45526825.
  • Wikitree, citing Capt. Joseph Cole Jr.
  • Memorial for Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. with links to family at Find A Grave: Memorial #47513323.
  • National Cemetery Administration.  U. S. Veteran’s Gravesites, ca 1775-2006 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2006.
  • Editors; Battle of King’s Mountain; 


Where did you come from, John Thomas?

This weeks prompt on #52ancestors is “nature” and who would be closer to nature than a farmer?  When I research ancestors in the 1800s, most of their occupations are farmers farmer 1700 001with an occasional blacksmith, merchant or iron worker.  The wives are “keeping house” according to the census records.  This week, I would like to focus on John Thomas, a farmer, who really challenges my research skills!  For one thing, he had a common name and I had no idea that there were so many John Thomas’s out there in the records – born in every time period!  It took me a while just to determine which John Thomas was my 6th Great-grandfather but I found him and his wife, Mary Robinett.  They were parents of my 5th great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Thomas, who you can read about here.  Searching for “FREELOVE”

Thomas, john and mary 001

John Thomas was born on 16 October 1733 according to family Bible records which were recorded but the original Bible’s whereabouts are unknown.  John’s place of birth is not yet proven and I have found sources that list him being born in Massachusetts or Connecticut but these definitely were not our John Thomas.  Another source listed him as being born in Southampton County, Virginia.  According to the book about his grandson, “Abijah Thomas & His Octagonal House,” by Mack H Sturgill, “a thorough search of vital records and deeds of that county in the county seat at Courtland failed to reveal a trace of John Thomas and his family there.  That leaves the origin and provenance of John Thomas in limbo.” (See also: Abijah Thomas and His Octagon House)  Another story had John as a great-grandson of the orphan, also named John Thomas, who came to the Plymouth Colony at age 14 with Governor Winthrop.  There is no documentary evidence that this story is true!  In order to find more information on his birthplace, I started by researching the children of John Thomas and Mary Robinett.

Research on their children revealed that their son Thomas Jefferson Thomas was born in either Virginia or Pennsylvania.  However, the 1880 U. S. Census of Thomas Thomas’s daughter, Mary Polly Thomas Porter, shows her father was born in Pennsylvania and her mother was born in New York.  Since Thomas Thomas was born in 1766 and was the third child, the John Thomas family most likely was living in Pennsylvania in 1766 – my guess is that they lived in Southampton, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Southampton, PA 001 It is possible that the Southampton referred to in the book was really the Southampton in Pennsylvania, not the Southampton County in Virginia.  There is a Southampton township in Bucks County PA and Southampton was a seaport through which Quakers such as William Penn entered as well as many immigrants of Scots-Irish descent.  Now our John Thomas was not only of Scots-Irish descent, he was also associated with Quakers.   John Thomas and other Baptists joined with a group of dissident Quakers and members of the Pennepek Baptist Church to form the Southampton Baptist Church.  For now, my best assumption is that John Thomas certainly could have been born in Pennsylvania.  However, the names of his parents are still a mystery!

Historically, the Scots-Irish were Scots, mostly farmers, who settled in Northern Ireland in the province of Ulster after 1600 to escape religious persecution under English rule.  They started migration to Virginia in 1715 and many sailed into the ports of Philadelphia and Southampton and eventually settled in the mid and southern counties of the Shenandoah Valley.  The Scots-Irish soon became the dominant culture of the Appalachians in Pennsylvania and Virginia.  This could help explain how John Thomas may have come from Pennsylvania and eventually settle in the Washington/Smyth County area on the Holston River.  John Thomas and Mary Robinett acquired quite a large tract of land along both sides of the South Fork of the Holston River in 1773.  This was part of the St. Clair Land grant is and is still known as St. Clair’s Bottom (also called Sinclairs Bottom) and was in Washington County, Virginia.  This area was first Augusta County, then Fincastle County until Washington County was formed in about 1777.  Later it became Smyth County but not until 1832.  Sinclairs Bottom was a tract of 996 acres patented by Charles Sinclair in 1753 who lived on it until the French and Indian War massacres of 1755 drove him out.

John Thomas married Mary Robinett on 26 March 1761, the daughter of Samuel Robinett and Ann Osborne.  Mary was born in 1740 in Southampton – I assume Southampton, Pennsylvania.  Mary’s gravestone indicated she was the daughter of Samuel and Samuel could have been related to an early immigrant named Alan (Allen) Robinett.  Alan came to Pennsylvania at the time of its settlement by William Penn.  According to Rootsweb, John Thomas and Mary were married in Augusta County, Virginia. (At that time, Augusta County covered a huge area from the middle of Virginia and westward.)  They started their family with two daughters, Sarah in 1762 and Martha in 1764.  Thomas was born in 1766, Mary in 1769 and, lastly, Abijah in 1776.

John and Mary were quite possibly living in New Britain, Bucks County, PA up to about 1766 and moved to Black Swamp, Cameron Parish, Loudoun County, Virginia.  On 18 July 1767, John Thomas was one of nine organizing members of a newly formed New Valley Baptist Church in Loudoun County, Virginia.  John and Mary were baptized by Rev. Joseph Thomas (possible relative) along with 6 or 7 others.  In October 1768, the Loudoun County Tithable (tax) list for the South Fork of the Holston River, listed John Thomas and his neighbor, Thomas John (2 different men).  Somehow Thomas John was related to John Thomas.  When Thomas John died in 1806, our John Thomas signed his will as a witness and Thomas John left his entire estate to John Thomas’ children!

Holston River 001
John Thomas owned land on both sides of the South Fork of the Holston River.

On March 1774, John Thomas obtained 404 acres and had the land surveyed.  It was on the north side of the South Fork of the Holston River in Sinclair Bottom.   The land adjoined the land of William Lewis who, interestingly, was also his neighbor in Loudoun County!  John was also a neighbor of Joseph and Hugh Cole who are also our ancestors!

This story gives some insight into John Thomas’s beliefs.  On 21 November 1781, our John Thomas who acknowledged himself  “indebted to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Sum of Four Hundred Pounds Specie,” would not swear allegiance to the United States of America government most likely because of religious beliefs.  His Baptist neighbor, William Lewis and his sons who were old enough to fight in the Revolution were also found indebted to the Commonwealth for not swearing allegiance or serving in the military.  John and William Lewis were members of the Baptist church which incorporated some Quaker beliefs in pacifism and swearing allegiance “Only to God.”  Of course, the county records do not reveal why they were indebted but the Virginia Assembly did pass a law in May 1777 requiring all adult males to swear an oath of allegiance.  The penalty for not doing so was loss of the right to vote, hold office and serve on juries.  In addition, an added penalty of double taxation was passed in October of that year.  As far as I can determine from later county records, John Thomas paid his penalty and was allowed to reside in the county.

In 1792, James Cole (another ancestor of ours) sells one acre and 100 poles of land for building a new Baptist meeting house (church) in the Holston River area for just 20 primitive baptist church pic 001shillings to the Acting Trustees of the Congregation of Sinclair Bottom.   John Thomas was one of the Acting Trustees.  This Primitive Baptist Church was built about 1775.  Primitive Baptists are the same as Hard Shell Baptists believing in following scripture and adult baptism among other ideas.

In 1795, John was able to obtain more land from the Commonwealth of Virginia on the Waters Redstone which is a tributary of the South Fork of the Holston River.  He gained 230 acres.  In 1804, their daughter Anna Thomas Martin died and in 1806, daughter Mary Thomas also died.    On 3 February 1816, John’s wife, Mary Robinett Thomas, died in Sinclair Bottom, Washington/Smyth County and she was buried in the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Sinclair Bottom.  Three years later in 1819, their son Abijah Thomas died and was buried in the same cemetery.   John was not listed in the 1820 census and was possibly living with his son, Thomas Thomas and his wife, Freelove Cole Thomas.

On 21 January, 1820, John Thomas sells to his son Thomas Jefferson Thomas, 315 acres of

South fork of Holston R 001
South Fork of the Holston River,  Smyth Co., Virginia

land for one dollar out of “natural love and affection for his son.”   Also “of natural love and affection” for his grand-children and one dollar, John deeds 275 acres of the South side of the Holston River to Sally Allen, John Thomas, Polly Thomas, Betsey Thomas, Martha Thomas, Sam Thomas, Anna Thomas and David Thomas who are all children of his deceased son Abijah Thomas.

On 9 July 1821, John Thomas died in Sinclair Bottom, Washington/Smyth County, Virginia and he is laid to rest next to his wife, Mary, in the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

prim Baptist church cemetery 001
Cemetery of the Primitive Baptist Church, Chilhowie, Smyth Co., Virginia


  • Sturgill, Mack H; Abijah Thomas & His Octagonal House, Tucker Printing, Marion, Virginia, 1990.
  • Year: 1880; Census Place: St Clair, Smyth, Virginia; Roll: 1390; Page: 112A; Enumeration District: 085.
  • Wikipedia: Southampton, Pennsylvania/history.
  • Rootsweb WorldConnect Project Genealogy – History, On Going Research (Owner: Don Martin Thomas) on Samuel Robinett.
  • Sturgill, Mack & Kenneth, Smyth County, Virginia Cemeteries, Volume 1; P. 150.
  • Loudoun County, Virginia, Tithable List; October 1768, South Fork of the Holston River; Loudoun County Virginia Courthouse; Leesburg, Loudoun, Virginia.
  • Edwards, Morgan; A History of the Baptists, Vol. 2, 1770-1792; Prepared for publication by Eve B Weeks and Mary B Warren.  Heritage Papers, Danielsville, GA 30633: Copywrite by Mary B Warren, 1984, p. 42.
  • Montgomery County, Virginia, Plat Book A, p. 33.
  • Wilson, Goodridge, Smyth County, history and traditions. Kingsport, Tenn,; Kingsport Press, 1932; p. 121.
  • Summers, Lewis Preston, Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800; 1 Volume in 2 Parts; Part 2; Pgs. 1294-1295. (Referencing Washington County, Virginia; p. 260).
  • (land surveys of John Thomas).
  • Find A Grave;; citing John Thomas, Memorial 45539287; and citing Mary Robinett Thomas, Memorial 45538411.

Where Did My Ancestors Worship?

Week 17 of #52 Ancestors: AT WORSHIP

I thought about this topic for quite a while.   I started reading the ” Smyth County, History and Traditions” by Goodridge Wilson about Smyth County, Virginia and I found a section about the early churches and religions.  Many of my ancestors settled in the Smyth County area – which was first Montgomery and then Wythe County area.  Smyth was made a county in 1832 from parts of Montgomery and Wythe.  In fact, my 5th great-grandmother, Freelove Cole Thomas, named the county seat of Marion in Smyth County!  I have been curious as to the religious beliefs of my ancestors.

I discovered that the first people who came to settle in Smyth were mainly Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran and Reformed families with a few Methodist and Episcopalian among them.  Those of Scotch-Irish extraction were numerous – which would includes my ancestors- and they were mainly Presbyterian.  My Cole ancestors who came to the Smyth area were from Connecticut and Massachusetts and were either Baptists or Congregationalists before they came and became Baptist soon after arriving. (p. 120).

The Thomas Family are also my ancestors and were mentioned in the book as the first Thomas coming from Wales via Southampton and were probably Episcopalian or Presbyterian.   The Presbyterians were the first to organize in the county and were called the Upper Holston Congregation meeting at a place called Royal Oak in 1776.  The Holston River ran through Smyth County.  Most likely, Thomas Thomas and his wife Freelove Cole Thomas worshipped at Royal Oak Presbyterian Church and became members because their children were listed as members.  Their son, Abijah Thomas (Abijah Thomas and His Octagon House) was an elder in the church. (p. 125)  You can read more about the Thomas Family here: Searching for “FREELOVE”

However I recently found information about the father of Thomas Thomas who was John Thomas married to Mary Robinette.  It seems that John Thomas and his wife are credited with helping to found the New Valley Baptist church in Loudoun County, Virginia along with a Rev. Joseph Thomas.  This would have been before they came to settle in Smyth County.  So I have some Thomas families as Baptist and some as Presbyterian!  I need to search more sources to verify any of this!

The James families of Smyth County were also my ancestors and may have been Baptist or Methodist when they arrived.  I found that later many members of the James families were buried in Methodist cemeteries so this appears to be accurate.  The Methodist movement started in the area with the arrival of a Bishop Asbury in 1788 (p. 122) and there was an age of revivalism that swept the country around the beginning of the 1800s.  The Methodists ran camp meetings and classes and grew to be the largest denomination.  “Bishop Asbury would sometimes come into this county through Grayson and sometimes up Cripple Creek.  He was entertained at least once in the James home at Sugar Grove (this was my ancestor) and he formed strong classes in the Blue Springs and Cedar Springs neighborhoods on both sides of the county line “(p. 140).

Then there were the Baptists who probably came from Pennsylvania and Delaware.  They had moved across and over the mountains partly to escape persecution but also to look for better land and living conditions.  As the book stated: “Their preachers were not so much noted for learning as for fervent zeal, and were men who preached with power, sparing neither effort nor sacrifice to carry the gospel to the remotest settler.  Many a rude arbor, shaded grove, and private dwelling, unlicensed by the general court as places of worship as the law required, were bravely used as such by these Baptist preachers.” (p. 129)  Some of my ancestor names I found in the Baptist section included Burgess and Baker.

I found the picture below of an early church or “meeting house” as they were called  in Smyth County, Virginia.  Denomination is unknown.  My research continues!



early church 001

Source: Smyth County, history and traditions [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Operations Inc., 2005.

Original Data: Wilson, Goodridge,. Smyth County, history and traditons. Kingsport, Tenn.: Kingsport Press, 1932.