Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A to Z April Challenge: T is for Tabatha

This is Day 20 of the A to Z April Challenge.  My theme is women with unusual names although I must cheat now and then or I’ll have a name and no story.

is for Tabatha.  I always thought “Tabatha” was a new name invented by the writers of “Bewitched.”  Do you remember Tabatha?  She was the witchy daughter of Samantha and Darrin Stephens.

These little actresses played Tabatha Stephens
on "Bewitched"

So I was surprised to learn we have a VERY OLD Tabatha in the family, specifically Tabatha Jollett of Greene County, Virginia.  Gathering her complete story is difficult.  If her name is on a will, a deed, a marriage or death certificate, I have not found it.  She appears by name in only two census records.  In 1850 Greene County, she is listed as 50 years old, living with Elizabeth (Jollett) King (54), Thomas Marsh (34), Fanny Jollett (28), and Columbia King (25).  No relationships are indicated.

In 1860, Elizabeth was living with Thomas and C.A. Marsh, so it is safe to assume that Columbia was her daughter, and now Thomas was her son-in-law.  “T” (age 63) and “FEA” Jollett (age 39) were on their own in Greene County.  So likely Fanny was Tabatha’s daughter. 

The question then is whether Tabatha was Elizabeth’s unmarried sister with a child out of wedlock or possibly a sister-in-law.  If she had married a Jollett boy, the only candidate would be James Jr. who left in the early 1830s headed for Indiana with his sister Clarissa and brother-in-law John Sampson.  However, James claimed he never married.  But if he deserted his wife and child, he might have lied too.

Looking at the 1830 and 1840 census records for James and Nancy Jollett, Elizabeth’s parents, Tabatha and Fanny could very well have been living in the household.  The numbers fit:

1830 Orange Co, VA Census (part of Orange became Greene in 1838)
1 15-20 – best guess James Jr.
1 20-30 – best guess Reuben King
1 50-60 - best guess James Jollett

2 under 5 – best guess Fanny Jollett and Columbia King
2 20-30 – best guess Tabatha Jollett and Elizabeth King  
1 60-70 – best guess  Nancy Jollett

1840 Greene Co, VA Census
1 70-80 – probably James Jollett (listed as James Jolly)

2 40-50 – best guess Elizabeth King and Tabatha Jollett
2 20-30 – best guess Elizabeth’s daughter Columbia King and Tabatha’s daughter Fanny Jollett

Either way, it fits for Tabatha to be a daughter or abandoned daughter-in-law.

Now there is one more piece of weirdness to confound the question:  When Elizabeth King died, her death was reported by “Fanny Jollett, granddaughter.”  That makes no sense at all.  That has to have been a recording error.  Fanny might have been Elizabeth’s niece, but certainly not her granddaughter. 

For more Terrific Tales, Trot on over to the A to Z April Challenge.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Whenever I hear that name, I think of Tabatha Coffey, the star of Tabatha Takes Over. I think I watch too much TV...

    Have a great Tuesday.

  2. It's a lovely name, Tabatha. Times have changed socially with many people not marrying, already having children by previous relationships also not recorded as married couples. It's going to be a nightmare for the next generations of genealogists.

    1. That is so true. Let's just hope people are naming the real father in records.

  3. It's very fun the way you get to be a detective and try to figure out these people's histories. There are definitely a lot of stories in there :)

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

    1. Family detective by day - mild mannered blogger by night.

  4. And I thought 'I'm My Own GrandPa' was the height of questionable genealogy! It's as if someone snapped their fingers and 'Pouff' there was Tabatha. The early records gave so little regard to females...sure makes for a 'creative writers license' though! A Bewitching Post for sure.

    My Letter 'T'...Only In Texas Towns
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

    1. Oh Sue - that's hilarious. Next time you have a great line for me, send it telepathically please. Darn I wish I had thought of this first.