Saturday, April 7, 2018

Robert Francis Tapscott, Revisited

Over the years this blog has often brought up the mystery of Robert Francis Tapscott (see, in particular, the posting of 26 Jul 2014). The second edition of my book Henry the Immigrant, the First Tapscotts of Virginia, contains the following page about Robert:

This information remains essentially correct (though the birth name of Lucy Frances Wood’s mother may have been “Kirk” rather than “Kirtley”). We are still searching for Robert Francis Tapscott's origins. But thanks to DNA, we may be getting closer to an answer.

First, yDNA results for a descendant of Robert Francis Tapscott show conclusively that Robert Francis is not a descendant of Henry Tapscott, the Immigrant, by an all-male line. The name “Tapscott” may have come from Robert Francis’s mother, but apparently not his father. In fact, the DNA results provide extremely strong evidence that Robert’s father (or possibly his paternal grandfather, etc.) was a Holder. The male descendant shows strikingly close matches to many Holder descendants — genetic distances as close as 3 for 111 markers and 1 for 67 markers.

Second, two descendants of Robert Francis Tapscott show close autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Elizabeth Percifull (abt 1790 – abt 1855), daughter of Elijah Percifull of Lancaster County, Virginia. (See posts of 13 Jan 2015, 15 Jan 2013, 17 May 2013, 13 Mar 2014, 30 Mar 2014, 21 Jul 2016, 19 Oct 2016.)

Third, I have been working with an individual who is attempting to identify his paternal line. He shows an excellent yDNA match with the male descendant of Robert Frances and close matches with Holders. But he also shows an autosomal match with a descendant of Jenny Perciful/Percifull, who was married in Lancaster County, Virginia in 1805. With the right name and living in the right place at the right time, Jenny could well be a relative of Elijah and Elizabeth Percifull.

                              What does all this mean?
Robert Frances Tapscott Marker, Old
Chapel Cemetery, Clarke Co, Virginia.

Elizabeth Percifull was the wife of James E. Tapscott, son of Ezekiel and grandson of Edney. Of particular importance is that Elizabeth and James lived in Fauquier County, Virginia, where, according to his marriage record, Robert Francis Tapscott had lived. James E. is known to have been deceased by 23 Jun 1817, but could have died as early as 1812. After James’s death Elizabeth continued to use her married name and bore several illegitimate children, who were given the name “Tapscott.” Elizabeth’s known children, born (presumably) after James’s death, had birthdates between 1814 and 1820, near that of Robert Francis, who was born in 1817. It is not at all unlikely that Robert Francis Tapscott was a child of Elizabeth and a male by the name of “Holder,” several of whom were living in Fauquier County at the time. This would explain the DNA results.

What is needed now is a good paper trail genealogical study to connect the Holders of Fauquier County to the Holders showing yDNA matches to Robert Francis Tapscott’s descendant. The results of such a study may allow the identification of one or more individuals who could be Robert’s father.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Two Nancys of Kentucky

Hi, Tapscott history aficionados -

Despite a dearth of Tapscott family blogs, I have not abandoned family history research. I’ve just been working day and night writing The Tapscotts of the Wabash Valley, a book covering Henry and Susan (Bass) Tapscott and their descendants. Unfortunately there are many, many descendants. Planned for inclusion are detailed biographies on four generations - 210 descendants and 191 spouses - with names and some limited data provided for a fifth generation (another 253 descendants). Several months' work have allowed the lines of Henry and Susan’s four oldest children (William, John, James, and Thomas) to be “biographized,” but there are eight more lines to go. Nancy Tapscott, Henry and Susan’s fifth child and oldest daughter, has now been reached.

A large number of family trees on the internet confuse the Wabash Valley Nancy with her cousin Nancy of Casey County, Kentucky. This is understandable since the two Nancy Tapscotts were both born in Kentucky and have similar birth, marriage, and death dates. But their histories are quite different.

Photo by Ritch Fuhrer

Photo by Ritch Fuhrer
The Wabash Valley Nancy was born in Green County, Kentucky, around 1835, to Henry and Susan (Bass) Tapscott, married farmer William Siverly on 29 Feb 1856 in Clark County, Illinois, and, after giving birth to twelve children, died sometime between 1880 and 1900, probably in Clark County. Her crude grave marker in Clark County’s Shad Cemetery (also known as Siverly or Shotts Cemetery) gives her name, but no dates. Though badly deteriorated, her husband’s marker in that cemetery is more informative.

Photo from Find A Grave

The other Nancy was born in Casey County, Kentucky on 22 Dec 1836 to William Stewart and Rhoda Jane (Coppage). There she married blacksmith George W. Coffman on 23 Dec 1852 and, after raising five children, died on 8 Nov 1914 in Lincoln County, Kentucky. George and Nancy’s gravestone in Middleburg Cemetery, Casey County, is almost illegible, but her name is clear.

Some trees erroneously show the Nancy born in Green County as marrying George Coffman, others show the Nancy of Casey County marrying William Siverly, and several show a single Nancy marrying both George and William. Moreover, several trees claim that Nancy traveled to Clark County and then back to Kentucky to die. I doubt that this blog will result in corrections, but hope springs eternal. Contact me for reliable, contemporary sources for the brief biographies shown above, or for more detailed histories.

But I must get back to writing about Nancy of the Wabash valley, whose line is comprised of 71 people (descendants and spouses) scheduled for biographies. Perhaps I should consider multiple volumes.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Susie Bell Tingley

Three past posts (6/25/2015, 9/13/2015, 9/14/2015) have discussed that infamous Clark County, Illinois, scallywag, Samuel Tapscott. We know of Samuel's demise, on 15 Jun 1903, of “concussion of brain” under mysterious circumstances. But what happened to his wife, Susan? We still don’t know everything, but we know more than we once did.

Susan Tingley was born around 1856 give or take a couple of years to John Hacket and Hannah Emeline (Wallen) Tingley, probably in Indiana. The family of ten (or more) children settled and farmed in Anderson Twp, Clark County, giving Susan and Samuel Tapscott ample opportunity to meet.

Susan’s middle initial is given as “C” in her 1876 marriage record and as “M” in a less reliable newspaper article. Since she was often called “Bell” or “Belle” or even “Susie Bell,” it is not at all unlikely that her middle name was “Corabelle.”

In 1879 a “Susan Tapscott” purchased land in Auburn Twp from James W. Tapscott (Samuel’s brother) for $600 and then in 1882 sold the same land back to him for $150. This was almost certainly Susan, wife of Samuel, though where she got $600 for the initial purchase and why she sold the identical land back at a loss is unknown. In 1880 Susan (Tingley) Tapscott, along with her siblings, inherited land from her father’s estate, land that today is part of Lincoln Trails State Park.

Susan had a hard life, at least once she met Samuel. Samuel was not only a threat to others, he was cruel to his family. According to family members, one daughter, Viola Jane, was crippled by Samuel, who swung her by her leg to the floor when he became angry while putting on her shoes. The leg had to be amputated and Viola lived out her life with an artificial leg.

Another daughter, probably Maria, died in 1898, when she threw herself in front of a train in Terre Haute. According to family tradition, she was pregnant and unmarried, but certainly her unhappy childhood contributed.

An 1884 Terre Haute newspaper article tells of Samuel’s viciousness:

MARSHALL, Ills, July 13. The wife of Samuel Tabscott, a brutal character living in Anderson township, came to town the latter part of the week with two of her children whom she said she had stolen away from her husband. He is in the habit of beating his wife and children with anything that comes to hand. The woman showed the strips made on the back of one of the children, a little girl. They looked like they had been made with a heavy strap. The woman said that the other two children were with their father but that she meant to get them also away from him as he maltreated them shamefully. He was arrested for the crime of wife beating several years ago. He is a rather dangerous character, and all the neighbors are afraid of him, hence will not do anything to prevent his brutality.

We do not know when Susan died. In 1895 Susan gave permission for her daughter Estelle (”Stella”) to marry in Edgar County, but on his 1903 death certificate, Samuel is listed as a widower. Though this seems to indicate that Susan died between those two years, death certificates are untrustworthy. One would not be surprised to find that Susan disappeared not owing to death, but because she changed her name and residence to escape a terrible life.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


I just heard from Gregory Tapscott, that Selby William Tapscott passed away Tuesday, 9 Jan 2018. Born 27 Jun 1930 to Samuel Selby and Daisy (Lofty) Tapscott, “Pickles” was the GGG grandson of James E. and Elizabeth (Percifull) Tapscott, and thus, the GGGG grandson of Ezekiel Tapscott.

With a deep interest in and love for friends and family, he was heavily involved in family history, which he enjoyed immensely. As the unofficial switchboard for Fauquier County Tapscott news, "Pickles" put himself in charge of distributing, receiving, compiling, and digesting items of interest to the family. In the words of Greg,

“One major family historian has gone on to be an ancestor.”

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Brick Wall Demolished

Remember Wesley Tabscott/Tapscott? He was that illiterate fellow who lived in Clark County, Illinois, the last half of the 19th century and whose origins were completely unknown (postings 6/7/2015 and 8/6/2015). We knew his birth date and place, death date and place, military record, land holdings, varied name spellings, all sorts of things. Most everything, in fact, except who his parents were. Was he an unknown child of Henry Tapscott, the Traveler, who founded the Wabash Valley Tapscotts? Or a child of Henry's father, William the Preacher? Or perhaps a descendant of William's second cousin Raleigh Tapscott, who lived in Kentucky near William, a descendant who tagged along with Henry when he traveled to Clark County. Perhaps he was really James W. Tapscott, a son of Henry about whom we knew little, though this seemed highly unlikely. James was believed to be literate. Or perhaps he was was not a Tapscott at all, a product of an NPE, non-paternal event - a name change, an illegitimate birth, an adoption. But the brick wall remained ... until Wed 27 Dec 2017, at precisely 2 PM, when it fell with a resounding crash.

At that date and time, while visiting my son, Michael, in Phoenix, and looking through copies of old Clark County deeds, I saw something surprising. On 19 Feb 1877 for $600 Wesley Tapscott had purchased Lots 2, 3, 8, 9, Block 19, in the town of Auburn (today, Clark Center). A few months shy of three years later, on 2 Dec 1879, those exact lots at that same price were sold to Susan Tapscott (presumably, Samuel Tapscott’s wife) by James W. Tapscott, son of Henry the Traveler and Susan (Bass) Tapscott. Between the two sales dates, no record is found showing the sale of land by Wesley to James. Moreover, the latter deed of sale was signed with a mark. Like Wesley, James was illiterate! Suddenly, everything fell into place. James W. Tapscott and Wesley Tabscott were one and the same, presumably James Wesley Tapscott.

The 1850 and 1870 Clark County, Illinois, censuses showed the name “James W.” or just "James," because that is how his family knew him and he was living with his mother and father (Henry and Susan Tapscott) at the time. The name “James W. Tapscott” was entered for his mark in the deed of sale to Susan Tapscott because the justice of the peace acknowledging the signature was James’s brother William Tapscott, who, like the rest of his immediate family, used that name. The occupation “at home” shown for James in the 1870 census is that which was often shown in censuses for nonworking invalids or near-invalids, as Wesley certainly was. Early records, 1852 and 1853 Federal land purchase documents, show the name "James W.," but he became "Wesley" in the military and continued using his middle name throughout his life. At last, the mystery of Wesley is solved. And from knowing little of James W. Tapscott, we now know a lot.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Esther Smith Gaddis O'Farrell Tapscott Mallory

Esther Gaddis Tapscott deed of sale.
During our trip to Illinois last summer Mary Frances and I picked up copies of 35 deeds for Clark County land sales involving Tapscotts. (If you would like scans drop me an email and I’ll send them to you.) We already had a large number from past trips, but these were newly uncovered.

A large number of the deeds involved mystery man Wesley Tapscott (posts of 7 Jun 2015 and 6 Aug 2015), and perhaps they will help unravel his origins.

But the deeds provided a new mystery, a mystery woman. On 17 Oct 1944 Frank Cole sold a block of land in Marshall for $1.00 to “Esther Gaddis Tapscott.” Frank was involved in real estate, abstracts, and brokering and his name appears on records for a huge number of Clark county real estate transactions. The $1.00 was undoubtedly a “nominal consideration,” widely used to keep actual considerations private. But who was Esther Gaddis Tapscott? There were very few Esthers among the Clark County Tapscotts or their spouses, and none with the middle name “Gaddis.” With a lot of labor and little luck I found who Esther Tapscott was. She was, for a short while, the wife of Omer Frank Tapscott (posting of 7 Sep 2014). I never knew that Omer had been married, but he had, briefly.

Esther May was born 17 May 1899, probably in Clark County, to Andrew Johnson and Minnie Bell (Lynn) Smith. She married four times, her last two times to Omer Tapscott and his cousin Elzia William Mallory. Since Esther had four children from her first marriage, to Robert Gaddis, she often used “Gaddis” as her middle name or, between marriages, as a surname. The details and sources are presented in my book on the Wabash Valley Tapscotts (still being written), but the marriages are synopsized in the following diagram.

Elzia Mallory and Omer Tapscott, husband number three and four, were cousins, not through the Tapscott line since Elzia was not a Tapscott by blood, but through the Mundy line. Elzia’s mother, Martha Mundy, and Omer’s mother, Sabra Mundy, were sisters.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Ellen Tapscott; Lottie Tapscott

These pages often contain the phrase “trees citing trees,”  family trees giving other family trees as sources. And those trees giving other trees as sources. Ad infinitum. Here are two more cases, two of thousands found on that wonderful, but terribly flawed internet. has 59 family trees showing a marriage between an Ellen Tapscott (1729 – 1807) and Martin George of Lancaster County, Virginia. Unfortunately the only sources cited for this marriage are other Ancestry Family Trees and a questionable DAR application, which does not give the name “Tapscott.” The Martin George in these trees is a child of William George and Rebecca Martin and a first cousin once removed of Benjamin George Jr., who married Ann (Edney) Tapscott. Martin is named in reliable contemporary records. But I know of no contemporary (18th, early 19th-century) record or document naming an “Ellen Tapscott” who lived in Lancaster County during this time period. Does anyone know of any contemporary or even a reliable secondary source with her name or showing a marriage with Martin? To head people off at the pass, an unsourced tree is not a reliable source. (Caution, the Martin George claimed to have married Ellen Tapscott had a second cousin once removed also named Martin George, born around 1770. Do not confuse the two.)

And on we find 32 trees showing a Lottie Tapscott, born around 1740 in Virginia, marrying Walker Gilmer Snead. Other trees provide the only source for either Lottie Tapscott or her marriage.

Why am I interested in this? Descendants of Lottie and Ellen Tapscott (according to the attached trees) show up in some of the DNA matches I am studying. Nonexistent people cause terrible confusion, and I am certain that Lottie and Ellen are nonexistent. Please prove me wrong.