Friday, July 24, 2015

Sarah Murray Drake Stover (1794-1874) my Third Great-Grandmother on my Father’s side

Sarah & William would have lived in a house similar to this
near the Watauga River in Elizabethton, Tennessee
Sarah M. Drake was born circa 1794. Some records show she was born in 1794 and others say 1795. One source provides an exact date of September 7, 1794. Similarly, various sources suggest different places of birth including Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, somewhere in South Carolina and the Southwest Territory of Tennessee.  I tend to believe that she was born in Pennsylvania because there are records of her parents, Abraham Drake (1761-1840) and Elizabeth Murray Drake (1773-1856), living in Cumberland County Pennsylvania at that time.

Sarah was the fourth child of ten. She had four brothers: Samuel, Ephraim, Jacob and John, and five sisters: Salina, Ruth, Priscilla, Mary and Elizabeth. By the time Sarah was two years old her family was living in Carter County, Tennessee where she remained for the rest of her life. In 1796, the family appeared on a tax record in Carter County. This was the same year that the area became known as Carter County. It was named for Landon Carter an early settler and land owner. The town of Elizabethton, the county seat, was named for his wife.
The Watauga River

Sarah’s father Abraham was a prominent citizen in Carter. He owned land and slaves, served on juries, and was appointed to oversee the construction of a road along the Watauga River from Indian Creek up to and beyond the mouth of Sugar Creek.
Record of William and Sarah's marriage
 On September 23, 1819 Sarah married William Ward Lincoln Stover (1795-1864). They were married in Carter County, Tennessee. The text of the marriage contract reads:
State of Tennessee, Carter County know all men by these present that we William Stover and Isaac Campbell are held and firmly bound unto his excellency Joseph McMinn, Governor for the time being and his successor in office in the full and just sum of fifteen hundred dollars void on condition that those be ______ (cannot read) to obstruct marriage between William Stover and Sarah M. Drake.
Witness our hands and seals this 23rd day of September 1819.
William Stover
Isaac Campbell 
Governor Joseph McMinn

Sarah and William had three sons between 1820 and 1826 – David Lincoln b.1820, Samuel Murray b. 1824 and Daniel b. 1826. See my first blog post dated June 28, 2013 to learn more about David Lincoln Stover.

According to the Lincoln Magazine Sarah helped care for her mother-in-law Mary Ward Lincoln in 1831 as Mary was dying of breast cancer. Mary Lincoln was President Abraham Lincoln’s great aunt.

In 1840, Sarah inherited two slaves named Dave and Allen from her father Abraham when he died. Her husband William served as a surety for the inventory of Abraham’s property. Other property was given to her mother and siblings.

Sarah appeared on the 1850 census along with her husband, two of their children and her mother Eliza. Sarah was 55 when the census was taken. This was the first census that listed all family members by name. Her eldest son David was married two years before the census so was not included in the household.  The census shows that the family was living on their farm that was valued at $6000. Their 26 year old son Samuel was identified as a physician. No profession is given for their youngest son Daniel, 23, so presumably he was helping his father with the farming.

In 1852, Sarah and William agreed to sell several tracts of land to their son Daniel. The document specified that Sarah and William would be able to continue to live on the land for life. The property was on the north side of the Watauga River on Green Mountain in Carter County.
1860 Elizabethton census showing William and Sarah Stover

On June 15th 1860 William and Sarah appeared on the census taken in Elizabethton. Their farm was valued at $3000 and their personal estate at $11,000. Likely most of this value consisted of the slaves they owned. Interestingly, their son Daniel was the Assistant Marshall at the time and is identified as the census taker in the top right hand corner. Ten years later when the census was taken on August 22, 1870, William had died and Sarah was living with her son Samuel and his family – wife Carolina and 6 children Minnie, Belle, Amelia, William, Sallie and Charles. In 1870, they were living in Sullivan County just north of Carter bordering Virginia.
1870 Sullivan County census showing some of Samuel Stovers children and Sarah M. Stover on line 7

According to William’s will Sarah inherited all of his household and kitchen furniture, his horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, mules and all of his farming utensils and his black smith tools. Negros left to Sarah via his will were Delilah, Sam, Dan and Jo. William stipulated that should Sarah remarry these slaves were to remain her personal property and “were not to be subject to the control of any husband she may hereafter marry.” William left Sarah the tract of land known as the Mill Tract and a separate tract of land purchased from their son Samuel on the south side of Holston Mountain and containing 100 acres. Holston Mountain is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and is part of the Appalachian Mountains. 

As with her birth records the details I have about where Sarah died are not perfectly clear. A fellow genealogist Dale Jenkins provided me with a photograph of her headstone that reads, “Sarah M Stover wife of W.L. Stover, 1795 – 1874. I believe Sarah is buried with other family members in Drake’s Cliff Cemetery (aka Fitzsimmons Cemetery) in Elizabethton. An article published in the Watauga Association of Genealogists (WAG), Vol. 40 notes that Sarah died about 1874 in Carter County, but another source says, “that she died at her son Samuel’s home”. This fact does not jibe with Samuel living in Sullivan County, but we can be certain of the general time and place.
Drake's Cliff cemetery where Sarah & William are buried

Sarah’s will was recorded in Carter County on the 24th of April 1874. She bequeathed her possessions to her one living son, two daughters-in-law and her grandchildren. She left her gold watch to her granddaughter Sallie, her silver spoons, one bed and bedding to her son Samuel, and a small bed and bedding to her grandson Charlie Dan Stover. Another grandson, William Butler Stover received a double barreled gun that had been owned by his grandfather William Stover. Granddaughter Amelia Stover got a looking glass, a breast pin, a clock, a bathrobe, furniture and bedding. Sarah also left money to pay to educate her grandchildren. And, finally she left money to her daughter-in-law Mary J. Brown who had remarried after her husband Daniel Stover died. All of this suggests that Sarah was relatively well off at the time of her death.
Sarah's headstone

Sources for this post include: 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses, marriage record, Carter County Deed Records, the wills of William Stover and Sarah Stover, Dale Jenkins, Google, Ancestry, Drake Family History by Donald Drake, Watauga Association of Genealogy, and the Lincoln Magazine.