Monday, October 22, 2012

Mystery Monday: Part 4 Man on the Run - Annie Found


Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

Click HERE for Part 1 The Early Years.
Click HERE for Part 2 The Getaway.
Click HERE for Part 3 The Letters.

Many years ago, my sister and I spent a lovely afternoon with our maternal grandfather’s cousin Vessie Jollett Steppe.  We were on a fact-finding mission in our early days of genealogy research, and Vessie was just the person to talk to.  She identified people in old photos and talked at length about various members of the Jollett family. 

Then she asked US a question:  In your research, have you run across anything about Annie Found? 

Annie who? 

As if trying to recall just exactly what she had heard as a child, Vessie said she had always heard about a baby girl being left by a Jollett boy on somebody’s doorstep.  She didn’t know who the boy was, where this was supposed to have happened, or even in what time period.  And who dubbed the baby “Annie Found”?

Of course, we were no help with that little mystery, so it became a little scribbled notation on a legal pad.

Fast forward about thirteen years.

A few weeks ago, I heard from “Patricia,” one of several Boyd family researchers.  In her Internet surfing, she found a page from the now-defunct Geocities where I had housed my research.  And because Patricia is such a good thinker, she immediately noted a possible connection between my Annie Found story and her Vinie Martin story.  Could Annie Found be the illegitimate child of Vinie Martin and William Jollett, a.k.a. William Boyd?  Was he the Jollett boy who deposited a baby on someone’s doorstep as he fled out of town in 1876?  And whose doorstep?

Among the letters that William and Hattie Boyd had sent to people in Rockingham County, Virginia was a response that could be a clue.  It said a family named Lichliters “. . . can give all information that anyone wants.” 

The mention in the letter of other names, Ruby, Georgie, Helen, and Oscar, led us to David and Sarah Munch Lichliter in Shenandoah County, the same county William Jollett visited when he was released from prison, the same county he rode through in his mad escape to Giles County.  Perhaps coincidentally, the 1880 census shows David and Sarah with two daughters:  Ida age 2 and – wait for it – Annie age 4.  Doing the math makes it clear that her birth year corresponds with the time that William Jollett disappeared.

1880 Shenandoah County, Virginia Census
click to enlarge

So did David and Sarah FIND little Annie on their doorstep?  The family Bible simply records Annie as their daughter.  But really, would anyone write “Found on a doorstep” in the family Bible?  It’s doubtful.  For now, the notion that we might have found Annie Found is only conjecture.

And what about Vinie Martin?  What became of her?  Not so surprisingly, there was a Virginia Martin in the 1870 Page County, Virginia census, the same county where William Jollett and his family lived.  Vinie sounds like a reasonable nickname for Virginia.  In 1876, she would have been about 17 or 18, certainly old enough to have attracted a man like William Jollett.  But whether this is THE Vinie Martin we don’t know for sure. 

In 1878, just two years after the reported incident with William Jollett, this Virginia Martin married Daniel Cullers of Shenandoah County.  The Cullers were neighbors of – are you ready for this? – Sarah Munch Lichliter’s family.  Munch, Lichliter, and Cullers families were living side by side for decades.  Certainly it’s not unthinkable that a woman like Vinie would be curious about her child, insert herself into the community where she could observe from a distance, and meet someone to marry.

Now if you aren’t already dizzy from trying to keep up with this soap opera, grab the Dramamine.  In the 1880 Warren County, Virginia census we find Daniel and Virginia Cullers and two daughters.  Warren County is where William Jollett and his wife Mary Elizabeth Martin were living when he was tried, convicted, and sentenced for horse theft.  And thus the story comes back to where we began.

1880 Warren County, Virginia Census
click to enlarge

Remember, I’m not claiming that Annie Lichliter was Annie Found or that Virginia Martin Cullers was the same Vinie Martin, but the circumstantial evidence is strong.  For now, however, that’s all it is – circumstantial. 

While I am satisfied that the letters offer enough clues to prove William Jollett and William Boyd are the same person, the Boyd researchers would like definite confirmation through DNA testing.  I have contacted several Jollett men, but so far none have responded.  The more compelling mystery for both of us is the terrible story that prompted William Boyd’s grandson to burn crucial parts of the letters.  Searches for court records and newspaper articles have produced no answers.

In that sense, William H. Jollett / William Preston Boyd remains a mystery.


10 comments:

  1. I'm soooo Dizzzzzy! You'd make a great Dr. Wendy Watson, my Dear...circumstantial or not!

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  2. Fascinating tale. You must wish you could go back & talk to those involved.

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  3. Ever thought of going into the law trade? Wow! You have presented some compelling circumstantial evidence Wendy! Please update us if you ever get any DNA test results (granted those you've tried to contact agree to the DNA test of course).

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    1. Finding a willing Jollett man is not easy, I've discovered. There are so few Jollett men, period. But I'll keep looking.

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    2. My name is Russell Boyd. I have taken the ancestry.com DNA Test. I got a hit from a Jollett. They even gave the common family member name. Any questions contact me at reboyd811@gmail.com

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  4. What is with them not responding?

    Vessie would be proud. She was so neat. I truly loved talking with her!

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    1. Some people fear DNA on general principle. Maybe they think someone will pin a crime on them or something, I don't know.

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  5. My name is Russell Boyd. I have taken the ancestry.com DNA Test. I got a hit from a Jollett family member. So we are related to the Jolletts.It even listed the common name. Any questions contact me at reboyd811@gmail.com

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