Friday, December 13, 2019

Getting the Bird's Eye Tour

In order to comprehend the lay of the genealogical land, so to speak, of my Boothe ancestors in Nansemond County—if, that is, Nansemond County was the place in Virginia where my second great-grandfather William Alexander Boothe originated—we need to get an overview of all the Boothe families living there when "Alexander" last appeared on the census. That means going back to 1840 to begin our survey, a task I began discussing yesterday.

I've already outlined the Boothe heads of household for 1840 Nansemond County—Alexander nearby Nathaniel and Andrew, then Robert and Henry next to each other, plus Kinchen—so it would help to see whether any of these names showed up in the subsequent enumeration. Of course, we already know that widower Alexander left for Tennessee before 1850, but it turns out all these other Boothe men remained in their home county.

Here's how the households appeared in 1850. Keep in mind, this was the first census year which included names for everyone living in the same household, but it did not include the stated relationships—that additional detail wouldn't appear on census records until 1880. Still, we can infer from what we see—what I like to think of as an educated guess. And since we've already seen indications that Alexander was likely born around 1812 in Virginia, this may reveal some hints as to possible relationships between each of these Boothe men, as we work our way toward tracing each of their family trees.

First in the lineup, of course, was Nathaniel Boothe, the one we spotted just four lines after Alexander's entry in the 1840 census. Nathaniel was born around 1790, in Virginia, and was a farmer with property worth three thousand dollars in 1850. His household for that census included Mary, five years younger than he, and Joseph, born 1832 and likely his son.

The next Boothe entry in the 1850 census was for Andrew, whose age indicated he was likely born around 1800, also in Virginia. In Andrew's family were Priscilla, born 1805, plus two likely daughters, fifteen year old Amelia and five year old Elizabeth.

Kinchen Boothe, another resident of Nansemond County, was older than all the previous men, having been born around 1782, also in Virginia. In his household were Mary, born 1790, plus two likely adult sons, thirty year old Abram and twenty three year old Henry.

Not to be confused with that Henry was another Henry Boothe—in later years, differentiating himself by the addition of an initial "D"—who was born in 1809. This Henry's household included two women named Mary. One, I suspect, was his second wife, for she was born about 1822, only fourteen years before the birth of Henry's likely daughter, also named Mary. Taking a sneak peek ahead, I spotted a marriage index indicating that the younger Mary gave, for her mother's name, Amelia, not Mary, suggesting the possible identity of Henry D. Boothe's first wife.

Right next to Henry's entry in the 1840 census had been that of Robert. In the 1850 census, we find that Robert was born about 1779, and was listed as the property owner of a parcel valued at $500. In his household was a woman born one year after Robert, whose name was given as Honor Beasely. As there was no apparent wife in this household, I suspect Honor was Robert's sister. The third member of this household was a thirty six year old man named Daniel Boothe, possibly Robert's son.

Putting all these Boothe men (and neighbors) in age order from oldest to youngest would give us, first Robert, then Kinchen, and afterwards Nathaniel, Andrew, Henry, then Alexander. With the years of birth spanning from 1779 through 1812, it is doubtful that these would all be brothers. The proximity of living quarters might suggest that Henry would be the son of Robert, or that Alexander might be the son of nearby Nathaniel. But I'm not quite prepared to make such claims just yet. There is this small matter of documentation, you see.

And that's just the gist of my dilemma: documentation. Wars, fires, and the like, you know. There are, however, some old genealogies of area families that have been published, it seems. And we all know how error-prone those can be, even though they were printed and bound up in book form. Still, it might provide some guidance to take a look and see what records others might have found—or privately preserved, despite those public, courthouse fires.

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