Sunday, March 23, 2014

52 Ancestors: #12 - Elizabeth JOLLETT King

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.

James and Nancy Jollett were on a roll with those daughters.  Number 4 was Elizabeth Jollett, born about 1796 in Orange County, Virginia.  The little bit of her life that remains on record can be found in 3 census records, a listing in a marriage register, and a death record.

On May 20, 1822, James signed permission for young Elizabeth to marry Reuben King. Her brother Simeon served as witness and bondsman.

Now Reuben is an enigma.  As unlikely as it sounds, the name “Reuben King” was as popular as John Smith.  A search for the name finds a large number of Civil War records for ol’ Reuben, but it is highly unlikely that they could be THIS Reuben’s records.   He would have been much too old to serve. 

In 1810 there is a Reuben King listed as head of household in Rockingham County.  A marriage record dated 1809 in Rockingham for the union of Reuben to Anna Sipe suggests this is the family.  But that marriage predates the 1822 marriage of Reuben and Elizabeth.  

OK, Elizabeth could be a second wife.  A much younger second wife.  It happened all the time when a widower needed someone to step in and care for his children.

However, there is no evidence that Reuben was widowed or that Elizabeth became stepmother to the large number of children in the King family of 1820.  

In 1830, back in Orange County where Elizabeth’s parents lived, the ages and gender of James’s household suggest there could be a son-in-law and grandchildren there.  But the numbers do not match the 1820 Reuben King family.  Perhaps that family was old enough to be on their own and he was starting over with Elizabeth.  Or this is an entirely different Reuben King.

Sometime after 1830, I believe Reuben King dropped out of the picture either by desertion or death.  In the 1840 Greene County, Virginia census, the ages and gender of the 5 members of the household fit James Jollett (70-80), Elizabeth King and her sister (females 40-50), and their respective daughters (20-30).   No Reuben King in the state of Virginia.

In 1850, Elizabeth King was head of household in Greene County, probably in the house she grew up in, maybe taking over when her father passed away.  Living with her were her daughter Columbia, future son-in-law Thomas Marsh, and a sister and niece.

In 1860, the 76 year old Elizabeth, who could neither read nor write, was living in the household of Thomas Marsh, husband to her daughter Columbia.  Elizabeth now had one grandson whose name appears first as “E T.” 

By 1870, Thomas had moved the family to Rockingham County.  Elizabeth was still with him, Columbia, and the grandson “Elliott.”  Also in the household is someone named Susan Jolliffe.  Even if that is a miss-hearing and misspelling of Jollett, I don’t know who it is.

In 1878, Elizabeth’s death was reported by Frances Jollett who is listed as her granddaughter.  I believe Frances was actually a niece, not a granddaughter since Thomas and Columbia had no other children besides Elliott. 

THREE Generations:

Elizabeth JOLLETT (Abt 1796 Orange County, Virginia – 20 Aug 1878 Rockingham County, Virginia) & Reuben KING 20 May 1822 Orange County, Virginia
1. Columbia Ann KING (1825 – Aft 1902) & Thomas J. MARSH (1816 Orange County, Virginia - 18 May 1898 McGaheysville, Virginia ) 7 Feb 1852 Greene County, Virginia
  • Elliott MARSH (29 Mar 1860 Greene County, Virginia – Before 1900)

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Surprised that Reuben King was such a common name. That does make it much harder to trace someone. I know how hard it is when I work on my Browns! ha!

    1. It was a surprise to me too. I have some Smiths, but believe it or not, there are periods when they are very easy to track.

  2. So Elizabeth was 94 or 95 when she died? Amazing. Isn't it frustrating to think you have an ancestor with an uncommon name, only to find it isn't? I wonder if/when more resources will be available to help you get enough details to know more certainly about this family.... I always just keep hoping for more resources online or a better understanding of what else might be available in other places.

    1. Exactly! I knew Reuben was somewhat popular, but never imagined there were so many of them in one state across several generations.

  3. Oh, that Susan Jolliffe reallyhas to be Susan Jollett, don't you think? Now...who could she be and how is she related to your Jollett family?

    1. I keep thinking this must be Frances Jollett, Elizabeth's niece. But how do you confuse Frances and Susan??

  4. When I hear Reuben King all I can think of is Burger King. I know you will solve all of these mysteries!

    1. I'm sure he had it his way and took off. Thanks for the vote of confidence.