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The possible grandmother

So The Legal Genealogist is off to put paid to one particular genealogical question this year: who was the mother of Margaret (Battles) Shew?

Margaret is my 3rd great grandmother. My line comes down from Margaret’s daughter Martha Louise, to Martha Louise’s daughter Eula, to Eula’s daughter Opal, to Opal’s daughter Hazel, who was my mother.

I won’t outline the issues again except to note that Margaret’s father, William Battles, was married twice, and it’s entirely possible that either wife could be Margaret’s mother. We know that we have an mtDNA match to a documented descendant of wife #2, Ann Jacobs; now we need to rule out the possibility that wife #2 shared a common female ancestor — and thus mtDNA — with wife #1, Kiziah Wright.1

To do that, we need to compare Kiziah’s mtDNA to Ann’s (and our) mtDNA. If they match, we’re back to square one with both lines still being possible. If they don’t, then with everything else we know, we can write up our proof argument that we do indeed descend from Ann.

But since we don’t know if Kiziah left any descendants, we need to find someone else who would share that same mtDNA signature — we need to find a documented female line descendant of Kiziah’s mother.

Margaret mother

So… today’s question: who was Kiziah (Wright) Battles’ mother?

William and Kiziah were married in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, in 1818.2

Looking at the marriage record, it doesn’t seem to provide any help whatsoever. All it says is “I hereby Certify that on the 12th of dec. 1818 I Married Wm Battles & Kiziah Wright.” And it’s signed by a Justice of the Peace whose first initial (all he provided) was “B.” and whose last name might have been Hemps or Stemps or Stumps. No parents identified for either bride or groom. No help, right?

But now waitjustaminute. I do know a few things now. First and foremost, the document nails their feet to the floor at one place at one time. Both were in Oglethorpe County on 12 December 1818. Kiziah’s surname at that time was Wright. I can’t be sure just from this record if it was her birth name or the surname from a prior marriage, but it’s a clue. Since there’s no consent of parents listed, it’s evidence — though not proof — that both were of legal age at the time. They weren’t married by a preacher. That may mean their families weren’t religious, or perhaps they were in a hurry to get married. And whoever that justice of the peace was, his name is on file somewhere — and he’s clearly in the FAN club (Friends, Associates, Neighbors3) of this couple. So I’ll tuck that information away in case it helps later.

Not bad for a document that was “no help,” huh? Will I ever need this information? Not sure. But if I don’t record it, I can almost guarantee you it’ll be the one essential piece that I need — and can’t remember where I saw it.

Now of course I could head to the census records and make a list of every Wright family in the 1810 and 1820 censuses of Oglethorpe County — and if necessary I would do that. But remember that I need a female line descendant of Kiziah’s mother. Who, unless she was a widow and not remarried, isn’t going to be on either of those censuses herself with the surname Wright.

So what else to do? Focus on Kiziah. See if there’s anything else in Oglethorpe County with her name on it.

And there is.

On the 16th of December 1818 — just six days after his marriage to Kiziah Wright — William Battles of Alabama Territory sold to Asa Wright of Oglethorpe County “all that tract of parcel of Land … being part of a tract of Land of Francis Wright decd”. Better yet, “Kiziah Battles wife of the said William Battles” signed off on the sale, giving up her rights in the land.4

Now we have a potential father’s name, don’t we? Francis Wright, deceased. Cool. Ready to move on?

Not so fast. Remember that bit about the FAN club– those Friends, Associates, and Neighbors? So who else is mentioned in this document? Well, first off, it says the tract of land at issue was adjoining the lands of James Hartsfield. And William’s signature was witnessed by Thad. Beall, Wm. Callahan and Elias Beall, a judge. Kiziah’s meanwhile was witnessed by two women: Delilah MCurdy and Lucy Williford.5

Those have almost got to be kin. You don’t dredge up female witnesses out of the waiting rooms of a county courthouse in the early 1800s. Overlooking those names would be a real mistake.

So we note those and then, of course, check to see if there’s an estate file for Francis Wright.

There is — and it’s a goldmine. It has, in January 1805, Lucy “Right”’s bond as administrator of the estate of Francis “Right”. And all the guardian bonds for the “orphans and minor heirs of Francis Wright”: Thomas Scott for Nancy Right Battles. Gabriel Jones for Willis and Milly Right. Mason Jones for Kiziah Wright and Frances Wright. Randolph Jones for Asa Wright. Henry Wright for Delilah Wright. In August 1812, acknowledgement by William & Frances Edwards “late Frances Wright” of receipt of a distribution. In October 1813 Stephen MCurdy acknowledging distribution in full to “my wife (formerly Lilah Wright)” of her share of the personal estate of “her father Francis Wright.” And in December 1819 William Battles acknowledging receipt of $177.81 from Mason Jones for Kiziah Wright.6

Let’s see here. Lucy Wright as administrator of the estate of Francis Wright. Lucy Williford as witness for Kiziah (Battles) Wright in 1818. And — sigh — Lucy Wright marrying John Williford in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, on 20 January 1807.7 Then in 1809 John and Lucy Williford “for and in consideration of Love good will and affection” to Mildred Wright, Delilah Wright and Kiziah Wright, Lucy’s share in the estate of “Francis Wright Decd.”8

Hello, potential grandmother of Margaret. If she’s Kiziah’s child, this is Grandma, isn’t it? And we can give her a maiden name by virtue of a deed of gift from Aaron Jones to Francis Wright, his son-in-law, of an enslaved woman, Nan, in Culpeper County, Virginia in 1787 before they all — Joneses and Wrights — moved to Georgia.9 She was Lucy (Jones) Wright Williford. Now all those Joneses as guardians for the children make sense, don’t they?

But it’s all even better, isn’t it? Because we need to trace a female line descendant of that grandmother. And we now have a bunch of candidates — Lucy’s daughters.

• Delilah Wright as orphan and minor heir of Francis Wright. Delilah Wright as beneficiary of the deed of gift of John and Lucy Williford. Stephen MCurdy as husband of Lilah MCurdy, formerly Lilah Wright. Delilah MCurdy as witness for Kiziah (Battles) Wright in 1818. That works out nicely, doesn’t it?

• Milly Wright as orphan and minor heir of Francis Wright. Mildred Wright as beneficiary of the deed of gift of John and Lucy Williford.

• Frances Wright as orphan and minor heir of Francis Wright. William & Frances Edwards “late Frances Wright” acknowledging receipt of her inheritance.

• And Nancy Right Battles as orphan and minor heir of Francis Wright. And — sigh — the wife of William Battles’ brother, Samuel.10

Now I might wish that one of them had married a Clodhoppergefulden — might be a bit easier to trace their daughters down a generation.

But I now have a place to start.

I have four likely sisters of Kiziah (Wright) Battles — and one of them, just one of them, may have direct female line descendants living today.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Finding Margaret’s mother, part 2,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 18 May 2019).


  1. See generally Judy G. Russell, “Keeping that DNA resolution,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Apr 2019 ( : accessed 17 May 2019).
  2. Oglethorpe County, Georgia, Marriage Book 1: 61, Battles-Wright, 12 December 1818; “Marriage Records from Microfilm,” Georgia Archives Virtual Vault ( : accessed 17 May 2019).
  3. See Elizabeth Shown Mills, QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer’s Guide to Cluster Research (the FAN Principle) (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2012).
  4. Oglethorpe County, Georgia, Deed Book J : 200, Battles to Wright; Oglethorpe County Courthouse, Lexington.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Oglethorpe County, Georgia, Estate Case File 209-2-1, Francis Wright 1805-1818; Georgia State Archives, Morrow.
  7. See Fred W. McRee Jr., Oglethorpe County, Georgia Marriage Records, 1794-1852 (Lexington, Georgia : Historic Oglethorpe County, 2005), 134.
  8. Oglethorpe County, Georgia, Deed Book E : 423, Williford to Wright; Oglethorpe County Courthouse, Lexington.
  9. Culpeper County, Virginia, Deed Book O: 144 (1787), Jones to Wright; Library of Virginia microfilm, Richmond.
  10. See McRee, Oglethorpe County, Georgia Marriage Records, 1794-1852, 4.
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