Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge: write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.
My 3X great grandmother Mary P. JARRELL managed to accomplish something few of my oldest ancestors couldn’t: she had family who provided a tombstone that could survive the trampling of cattle and loss of cemeteries.
|Mary P. Jarrell 1791-1871|
photo courtesy Jan Hensley
She was the wife of John Frank RUCKER and mother to five children. Other than some dates, I know little about Mary since my research has thus far been limited to online sources. At Ancestry.com, many Rucker researchers claim Mary was the daughter of Daniel and Mary Terry Jarrell. However, there is no supporting evidence.
In fact, there is significant supporting evidence that those researchers are just wrong. A website dedicated to the Jarrells and related families provides thorough research as well as documentation.
Here is where that research differs from the common view on Ancestry:
- Daniel Jarrell was not married to Mary Terry. He was married to Mary DAVIS, as proved by the wills of James Davis and Benjamin Davis II as well as a number of records that support this close Jarrell and Davis connection.
- MY Mary Jarrell was not the daughter of Daniel and Mary. Their daughter Mary married William Humphreys.
Searching through the siblings of Daniel Jarrell leads to the conclusion that MY Mary wasn’t a niece either. All the Mary Jarrells and their husbands were present and accounted for.
The fact that Mary and John Frank were married in Madison County puts them in the neighborhood of this family of Jarrells. After all, the Jarrells and Ruckers shared property lines, served together in the Revolutionary War, intermarried, bought land from one another, and supplied witnesses for countless records.
So who was Mary’s family if not Daniel’s or his brothers'?
One possibility is that she was part of the Fitzgerald family who also lived in Madison County. They were a totally separate family unrelated to the Jarrells. However, a number of proven Fitzgeralds used the name Jarrell or Garrell interchangeably with or instead of Fitzgerald. The often-used spelling “Fitzjarrell” and “Fitzgarrell” makes it easy to see how that could happen.
This quirky name game was evident in my 4X great grandmother’s experience. Mary “Polly” SELF was married to Eason Fitzgerald in 1801 in Orange County. What became of Fitzgerald is unknown – he might have died or Polly might have left him (or him her). Being legally unavailable might explain why during her time with Jacob Shiflett she was a common-law wife known as Polly Garrell/Jarrell.
Fitzgerald names that need investigating include James, Thomas, William, Stephen and Lewis.
Horsley, Joan. The Jarrell Family of Early Virginia with focus on Daniel Jarrell and his wife Mary Davis: Their Family, Relatives, & Neighbors. Raleigh, NC: J. Horsley, 2009. Available online at www.joanhorsley.org.
© 2014, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.