Friday, March 19, 2021

Yes, She Was Listed


First, let's get to the punchline: yes, my third great-grandmother Delaney Townsend Charles was included in the listing of "Children of Revolutionary Ancestor" in the D.A.R. application of one descendant of patriot John Townsend. The unfortunate difficulty with that application, though, is that it might seem unclear just how Delaney's connection was verified.

The 1948 application of Annie Florence Kinney for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution linked her, generation by generation, to John Townsend by providing various documents for the required verification. On a page in the 1948 D.A.R. application labeled "References for Lineage," the instructions stated,

Proofs for line of descent are wills, administrations, deeds, church, Bible, census and pension records, tombstones, histories, genealogies, old newspapers, etc.

For the most part, Ms. Kinney provided certified lists from two family Bibles (a Kinney family Bible and a Townsend family Bible), as well as citing the will for John Townsend's son (Light), the 1850 census, and the unfortunately vague J. A. W. Thomas' entry on the Townsend family in A History of Marlboro County. The Townsend family Bible, despite sounding like a promising source, was printed in 1839, missing the mark for being a contemporaneous record for births dating back to the earlier part of that century. Likewise, the Light Townsend will wouldn't necessarily provide us a resource for identifying his siblings. 

Nevertheless, in Ms. Kinney's D.A.R. application, on that same page, under "References for Lineage," was a second section labeled "Children of Revolutionary Ancestor." Ms. Kinney had provided the names, dates of birth, and—sometimes—name of spouse for the thirteen children of John and Keziah Hays Townsend. In order, they were:

  • Jessie
  • James A.
  • John
  • Light
  • Joel Wilson
  • Allen
  • Arpie
  • David
  • Fereba
  • Benjamin
  • Isham
  • Delaney Rosella
  • Hester Ann

Underneath that typewritten list of names was the handwritten statement, "children check are from Bible + Cemetery records sent by applicant."

Delaney's name was not checked.

Enclosed with the supplemental records accompanying the D.A.R. application was a section headlined, "Proof of children of John and Keziah Townsend: with births, marriage." The beauty of having a digitized copy of that actual typewritten document is that by viewing the document on my computer (rather than as a printed form), I can enlarge it to see the sometimes difficult to decipher handwritten notes inserted between the typewritten lines.

Thus, here we have the difference between the version I previously wrote about, as it was found in another Townsend researcher's website, and the version updated with the inserted comments as they likely were intended to read.

First, the transcription:

Delaney was the Aunt of Mr. John R. Tow[n]send of Blenheim. Delaney Rosella Townsend married Andrew Jackson Charles.... The daughters of Mrs. Delaney Rosella Townsend Charles were Emma and Fanny and she also had two sons. After the death of Andrew Jackson Charles, Mr. Light Townsend (father of John R. of Blenheim) went to Fla. and brought his two nieces back to Marlboro County with him and reared them in his home.

What was added by hand to the original typed document is now added in bold:

Delaney was the great Aunt of Mr. John R. Tow[n]send of Blenheim....

That, of course, puts the relationship in clearer perspective—and causes me to wonder what other errors were not corrected.

There were more notes of interest. (This time, I'll include the handwritten corrections in the text, again indicating the additions by boldface.)

Names, births and to whom married when known were sent to Mr. John R. Townsend, Blenheim, S. C. (a direct descendant of John Townsend, Revolutionary soldier) (and grandson of Light) by the granddaughter of Delaney Rosella Townsend, Mrs. Fannie Rowell, Welbourne, Fla.

This was the same section in which the applicant explained,

After the death of Andrew Jackson Charles, Mr. Light Townsend (grandfather of John R. of Blenheim) went to Fla. and brought his two nieces back to Marlboro County with him and reared them in his home. They were Emma and Fanny.

After that point, the applicant explained that Emma and Fanny returned to Florida and were married. Emma's husband is referred to only by his surname, McClellan. The text then explains that Fannie Rowell was Emma's daughter.

Dissecting this unclear passage—let alone the reason for its inclusion—may make it seem to indicate a less than stellar source of verification. The narrative seems to indicate that the names, along with dates of birth and marriage details, were actually supplied to John R. Townsend by Fannie Rowell.

Keeping in mind that John R. Townsend was Light Townsend's grandson—and thus the patriot's great-grandson—and that Fannie Rowell was born at the end of 1882, long after her grandmother Delaney's departure, it seems less than reliable to accept the one feeding the other dates gleaned not by documentation, but by oral report. It is not the entry in a family Bible which makes the record certifiable, but the contemporaneous entry of the details—in other words, entered at the time of each occurrence—which lends it authenticity.

While I still haven't been able to locate a will for John Townsend, and now also feel shrouded in doubt over the reliability of the listing of his children in the post-1838 Townsend family Bible, the wording provides some food for thought regarding other details about Delaney and her husband, Andrew Charles. After all, there is no denying there was some connection between the two families. Let's take a deeper dive next week into what the wording on this application might have tangentially revealed to us.

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