Sometimes, it seems we get so tightly wound around a genealogical research question that it feels as if, while chasing the answer, we are running in circles.
Take this James "Walls" mentioned in Anthony Carroll's 1830 will in Monongalia County. I'm particularly interested in Anthony Carroll because he quite possibly could be father of Mary Carroll Gordon, my mother-in-law's third great-grandmother. It would be helpful to find some documentation tying the two together, but no matter how I try to find more information by snooping through those collateral lines, I still come up short.
The fourth heir mentioned in Anthony Carroll's will as one of his children was someone whose name was given as James Walls. We've already noted that Anthony Carroll's fourth wife—at least, as long as we can believe the report published in a local history book from a nearby county—may have previously been married to a man named Walls, signifying a step-son relationship to Anthony Carroll. However, there is one other possibility to consider.
As intermarried as these families living in frontier Virginia territories might have been, we can't just pass this topic by without considering that James "Walls" might have possessed a surname claimed by several of Anthony Carroll's fellow residents in Monongalia County. I say that, however, not only because there were several members of the Wells family living in the county, but because another Gordon relative actually married someone by that name.
Before we consider that likelihood, let me note that this is why I needed to back-pedal and inspect that timeline of the Carroll family, including Anthony's possible daughter Mary and her marriage to William Gordon. The Gordon family, as it turns out, was a rather large family. William Gordon's parents—John and Mary Duke Gordon—had at least nine children, of which William was sixth, born about 1772.
The eldest of William's many siblings was a daughter named Elizabeth, likely born in 1761. She it was, as we've already discovered, who married Christopher Guseman, the one whose son Godfrey eventually married Anthony Carroll's daughter Margaret.
Elizabeth and Christopher also had a daughter, whom they named Elizabeth. She apparently was married at quite a young age to a man much senior to her by the name of James Wells.
Since this elder James Wells died by 1816, he certainly couldn't be mistaken for the James Walls who appeared without explanation in Anthony Carroll's will. However, Elizabeth and James Wells had named one son James. According to Howard Leckey's Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families, that son James was identified in guardianship proceedings as having been under the age of fourteen at the time of his father's death. Leckey also noted that more than one guardian had been appointed for those several underage Wells children.
Although a long shot, it would be curious to see whether Anthony Carroll would have had anything to do with his son-in-law's nephew's upbringing.
Or are these convoluted suspicions the type of possibility that only stumped genealogists would dream up?