Monday, February 26, 2024



Have you ever come to the end of a school semester and somehow realized you were not able to complete the course work? That's how I feel today, facing down this week and seeing the end of the month looming large. Still to do: find any documentation which can either directly or indirectly confirm the marriage of my fifth great-grandfather John Carter and a woman by the name of Elizabeth Armistead. At the end of this month, I'll likely concede I deserve a grade of "incomplete."

Problem: just because everyone says it's so does not make it true. Everywhere I've turned, wondering if anyone else has found what I've failed to find, all I uncover is the same litany: that the couple did get married. How do these people know? Because a genealogy book published in 1912 said so. No documents. Not even any indirect evidence or thorough proof arguments. Nada.

I can see some ways that more research could possibly lead to answers. Prime among those ways is embedded in a likely Elizabeth Armistead's father's will. According to the 1719 will of one Francis Armistead, his daughter Elizabeth was bequeathed eighty five acres of land in Richmond County where her father had been living at the time of his death.

The beauty of that discovery is that Elizabeth, when her father died, was not quite three years of age. It would be a long time before this child would come into her own and possess that land. In the meantime, based on the traditions of the time, she would likely have had a guardian appointed to oversee the care of her property, even if her mother were the one taking care of her personal needs. And those guardianship proceedings would have been noted in court records.

In Elizabeth's case, if that guardianship appointment had been recorded, it should have shown up in Richmond County court documents for us to see. I have yet to find any such mention. I'm still looking, of course. The hope is that, having made that discovery, it might reveal where Elizabeth grew up, and where she was living at the time of her marriage to John Carter—if, indeed, that is what became of her before her untimely death. It's all a matter of completing the process by closing in on the minutiae of her life story, and letting those details lead us one step further.

Tracking any record of that property itself should also reveal some information in our search. For instance, if the land was sold, there would be a court record of the sales transaction. If the land remained Elizabeth's property as she entered into marriage—and then died, likely intestate—there should be some way to trace how the land was inherited, and by whom. Of course, any disputes over the disposition of the land after her passing should also show up in court records. Yet, do I find any? Not yet. That's still an incomplete task, no matter how I've searched so far.

This same search process yielded us information on another wife of John Carter who many researchers had not even been aware of—Sarah, the daughter of Abraham Kenyon who became mother of at least two of John Carter's children, yet whose name was not even mentioned in the Carter genealogy book so many still rely on. And yet, for Elizabeth Armistead, I have not yet been able to find any source to show the disposition of her inherited property after her death.

Searching through court records can be a tedious process, definitely not one that makes for scintillating reports. Though I will likely keep up the process through the rest of the month—and revisit it at a later date—let's move on tomorrow to the next point in my agenda for this month's research goals: to see whether our John Carter had any family connections with someone who was considered the wealthiest man in the colonies: Robert "King" Carter.

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