Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Doctors, Lawyers and Merchants, Oh My!

Searching through various family history records, I'm sometimes surprised to see how many professional people there were among my relatives of past centuries. Especially as I combed through all the records on my Broyles and Taliaferro lines in preparation for my D.A.R. application, I encountered several lawyers and medical people, along with a few successful merchants. And yet, checking out their entries in the census enumerations of their times, I'd be surprised to see them listed, simply, as farmers.

Now that I'm pursuing the lines of descent of my sixth great grandmother Jane Strother and her husband Thomas Lewis, I'm once again encountering doctors, lawyers and merchants. But this time, that is what they are called in their census entries—and confirmed with a good reading of their wills.

We've already talked about Jane's daughter Elizabeth, the one whose father died young during the time of the American Revolution, and mentioned her marriage into the Estill line of Augusta County, Virginia. I had already found records for what apparently were only a few of her children, but when I went searching for any published genealogies of that particular Estill family, I discovered a family history collection showing she and Isaac Estill were parents of twelve children.

Of the Estill children I already had found, there was Wallace Estill, presumably the eldest child of Isaac and Elizabeth, who eventually moved from Virginia to Tennessee. According to his Find A Grave memorial, Wallace purchased a large tract of land in Franklin County which eventually became known as Estill Springs. In addition to his work as a doctor, Wallace Estill also served as a state senator for one term.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Wallace—by then in his seventies, having been born in 1789—enlisted as a surgeon in the Confederate Army. While caring for the wounded during battles in 1864, he died in Americus, Georgia.

That, however, is not the line I am following for this particular pursuit. But it gives an idea of what some of the members of that family in that generation encountered in their lives.

Another child of Isaac and Elizabeth Estill that I was aware of was their oldest daughter, Agatha. Likely named for Elizabeth's mother, Agatha Lewis, this daughter married a Virginia man named Henry Erskine. For genealogical purposes, it was quite disappointing to discover Henry died before the 1850 census, leaving us no clues as to his occupation or success in life. The one notable detail of the Henry and Agatha Erskine family that I remember is that one of their daughters married into the apparently widespread Crockett family, leading me down a trail of wondering about relationships to the Crocketts of historical note.

I knew, also, of Isaac and Elizabeth's unfortunate son, Rufus, who died at an early age, likely from consumption.

Other than that, there was only one more son—at least before yesterday's discovery of the book collecting various Estill genealogies—that I had been able to find. His name was Floyd Estill, born in Monroe County, Virginia, in 1813.

Of this son, only one additional fact was provided by the Estill genealogy: that he had married a woman from Greenbrier County named Susan Kincaid.

Floyd Estill, at least in the later adult years in which his occupation was listed in census records, was an apparently successful merchant. True, in the earlier census in 1850, he and his young family lived in the home of a farmer, not their own property, but in 1860 he showed every sign of success at his endeavors.

Those census records revealed three children born to Floyd and Susan Estill: Elizabeth, John Floyd, and Agatha. It was the line of John Floyd Estill that led me to the descendant whose surname prompted me to question whether he might be related to a United States senator, so that is the line we'll focus on, as we continue this trek through the Estill generations tomorrow.

Above: "Spring," 1907 painting by Swedish artist Carl Larsson; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.

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