Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why Granny! What a Past You Had!!

Angeline Brinegar.  Beloved daughter of Jacob and Elizabeth (Hughes) Brinegar. 

Wife of Martillus Patton.....and John Henry.....and James Dunaway....and Taylor Sparks.

"Back in my day, we didn't act like that!"  Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here to tell you, yes they did!

You see, Angeline Brinegar was my 3g-grandmother.  Neither her exact date of birth or date of death is known.  She was born about 1826 and died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  But it is her legacy through the Estill County Courthouse that will forever keep her in our memory.

Angeline's first foray into the world of matrimony was on December 21, 1841.  She married Martillus Patton in Clark County, Kentucky.  Given that her father didn't sign for her and this was in a different county than where she lived, one can only suppose that our girl decided love would conquer all and she'd have a runaway marriage.  Well, the only thing to run away was Martillus.  Angeline may have been a bit high spirited.  They divorced and he moved to Indiana.

Then came along John W. Henry, my 3g-grandfather.  John was the son of Moses and Elizabeth (Riddle) Henry.  I haven't found a marriage record for them, but do know they were married.  Why?  Read on!  The man-cold must have been to much for Angeline.  In October 1850, John filed and was granted a divorce because "she left me in time of sickness.  She went to her sister's.  I sent a horse there by way of my uncle and friend, but she wouldn't come back!"  Yes, folks...actual words from the divorce.  Anyway, John packed up and went to Indiana.  She was left with two children, Elizabeth Frances Henry and John Speed Smith Henry.  With a name like John Speed Smith, is it any surprise that his nickname was Bud?  But I digress.  Angeline and the kids are listed with her father on the 1850 census.

With the thought "Third time's a charm" surely in her head, Angeline married for a third time on February 26, 1852 to James Dunaway, son of Isaac and Sarah (Rogers) Dunaway.  James and Angeline had one child to survive childhood, Lycortis.  In twenty years of researching, I've never found what happened to James, but can only assume that there was yet another divorce.  She is listed as Brinegar again on the 1860 census.

Perhaps, Angeline decided to fulfill herself in other ways.  On September 4, 1855, she was allowed $12.00 by the Estill County Court  for twelve weeks of nursing and waiting on a cousin, William Melton, during sickness.  Getting paid for dealing with the man-cold was better than being married to someone with it.  

From 1860 to 1873, Angeline took a break from marriage.  Censuses show that she had two children during this time - Dillard, born December 1862 and James (nicknamed Bose/Boss), born December 1867.  According to the 1870 census, their last names are Brinegar, but, on the 1880 census, their last name was Neal.  This leads me to believe that their father was a Neal - unsure if it was the same for both children.  Unfortunately, there are no records to prove or disprove this.  It'll be one of those mysteries that'll be kept until the truth is ready to come out.

This time between husbands (at least her own) did not bring peace because on March 17, 1865, Angeline made another trip to the Estill County Courthouse.  James Maupin requested and received a peace bond against her, courtesy of Judge E. L. Cockrell.

Early fall of 1873, love (or something like it) came along to our Angeline.  On September 27, 1873, she married Taylor Sparks, son of Thomas Sparks and Martha Powell.  

1880 Estill County Census, Irvine, Estill County, Kentucky; Roll 412,  Page 23B - Dated 4 Jun 1880
Above is the infamous census of 1880.  What a story it tells!  Taylor's information is that he was 29 years and a professional gambler.  Angeline's information is that she was 45 and a prostitute.  That's right.  A prostitute.  Now, whether the census taker didn't like her or she took out when Taylor lost in trade, I don't know, but I have never, in this small county, seen anyone's occupation listed as a prostitute.   What is also interesting is Angeline seems to have shaved about 10 years off her age.  Remember?  All other censuses show she was born about 1826.  Yeah, Granny had a past...and was a cougar to boot!  You'll also see, on this census, Dillard and James have the mysterious Neal name showing up.  But, now we get a new mystery.  Mattie Blackwell.  Born about 1876.  She's listed as a child of Taylor's, as is Dillard and James.  Obviously, the boys are not Taylor's, but Mattie is a mystery.  On Mattie's marriage to Isom Ballard, a man nearly 30 years her senior, she lists her mother as Angeline.  There are other sources that list Angeline as her mother, but there is no record showing Taylor as her father.  

It's anyone's guess what happened with this family between 1880 and 1900.  On the 1900 census, Angeline and her son, Dillard, are living together in Irvine.  She lists herself as widowed, but gives her age as 85.  Really, Granny?  Don't I have enough with you to figure out?  Next door is her son James and his family.

Since Angeline doesn't appear on the 1910 census and death records weren't required to be kept until 1911, it's assumed that she died sometime between 1900 and 1910.  Given the fact she was between 75 and 85 (depending on her actual death date), the argument could be made that she died as a result of old age.  But, you see?  There's one last chapter to the mystery that was Angeline Brinegar's life.

In 1901, her son, Lycortis Dunaway believed his half-brother, Dillard Brinegar, was having an affair with his wife.  On that fateful day in October, he took a gun and killed his brother.  He then found his wife and shot at her.  She dodged and he missed.  He then left and shot himself.  Was their mother alive to witness the death of her sons?  This I don't know, but I will be visiting the Kentucky State Archives in March.  Hopefully, I can find an answer.

Angeline has haunted me for several years now.  When I visit her grave or the area she lived, I can almost imagine her walking with me.  What was it like for this spitfire, living in a time when women had no rights.  And why was she buried away from the rest of the family?  Why was her grave unkempt for so long?  

Angeline, my Angeline - thank you for being my ancestor.


  1. How I enjoyed this story of Angeline... who, like all our ancestors (okay maybe more than most) was a real three dimensional person and not just a name on a screen. I'm glad to see someone else being real here about the stories they uncover as they dig into their genealogy. I have both heros and scallawags in my ancestory as well and sometimes they are one and the same!

    Again, I loved this story and this is exactly how I plan to write my blog history... not just the stuffy statistics of who was born and who died and when and where..but a little about the people they were as well.

    Kudos!!! Keep up the good work! Bravo!

    -Gen Coleman
    Appalachian Ponderings

  2. Thanks, Gen! It's the stories such as the above that make genealogy come alive. As you said, they *were* real people and, I think, we forget that sometimes as we become so caught up in the dates and facts.

    Thanks for taking the time to read about her. She was something else!

  3. Jen,
    I loved this post, too. Did you change your template for March? It's really nice. I'd be afraid to do it.

  4. Thanks, Kathy. I did change it. I love the templates at this site that I use. They have them for all occasions and you don't lose the widgets you've already put in.

  5. I have chosen you for the "One Lovely Blog Award!" Please visit my blog, Genealogy Simple & Fun: for your badge and acceptance rules.

  6. I enjoy your blog and am passing along to you One Lovely Blog Award. Please go to my blog and pick up your award. :-)

  7. I enjoyed reading your blog and how you brought each individual to life. Telling their stories shares so much more than mere dates.

    I am related to your Granny through her marriage to Taylor Sparks. He is my Second Cousin 4xRemoved. My Grandmother was a Powell.

    Keep writing and we'll keep reading!

  8. Thanks, Sue! I'm glad you enjoy it.

    Do you have any further information on Taylor? I know there's another Taylor around, but after his marriage to Angeline, I can't find him. Do you know if they divorced?

  9. Thank you so much, Leslie Ann and Tammy! I really appreciate it.