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… not very likely…

If Boston Shew married Elizabeth Brewer in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1816, and William Brewer married Phana Risdin in Wilkes County, North Carolina, in 1781, then William and Phana Brewer must be Elizabeth’s parents, right?

Sigh…

Yep, The Legal Genealogist is debunking yet another theory.

This one as to the parents of my fourth great grandmother, Elizabeth (Brewer) Shew — identified as William and Phana (Risdin) Brewer in about a kazillion online trees.1

Brewer-Risdin bond

Here’s what we know for sure:

According to the 1850 census, Boston and Elizabeth were both born in North Carolina around 1790.2

Boston took out a marriage bond to marry Elizabeth in Wilkes County in 1816.3

The Shew family was recorded on the census in Wilkes County in 18204 and in 1830.5 In 1840, the family was in Grayson County, Virginia,6 and, by 1850, had moved to Cherokee County, Alabama,7 with a whole bunch of folks from Grayson County.

There is no death record for Elizabeth, nor any later marriage record for Boston,8 but Boston appears on the 1860 census with a much younger woman and the first of two children born to this apparent second marriage.9

So… who were Elizabeth’s parents?

I’m not putting any money — not a red cent — on the William Brewer and Phana Risdin who married in Wilkes County in 1781. Nor on that William Brewer being the William Brewer who served in the patriot forces in the Revolutionary War from North Carolina and later applied for a pension while living in Blount County, Tennessee. All of which is all over those kazillion online trees.

The easiest part is separating the two Williams. A ton of trees identify the William who married in Wilkes as the William who served in the Revolutionary War in Captain William Gholston’s company. Um… nope. The patriot William Brewer said he was born in Brunswick County, Virginia, moved as a boy to the part of Orange County, North Carolina, that later became Chatham County, from there in 1796 to South Carolina for six or seven years and then to Blount County, Tennessee.10 This clearly isn’t the Wilkes County William.

It’s also not Elizabeth’s father. A marriage bond under North Carolina law was to be executed in front of “the clerk of the county in which the feme resides.”11 In other words, where Elizabeth lived. Meaning her family had to be in Wilkes County, not Blount County, Tennessee.

Now there certainly was a William Brewer who executed a marriage bond to marry Phana Risdin in Wilkes County in 1781.12 And there was a William “Bruer” and a Robert “Rysedon” recorded on a 1787 census in Wilkes County.13 Neither is still there in 1790. Nor in 1800. Nor in 1810.14 No clue where they went to.

Then in 1820 there are two Brewers in Wilkes County, both named William, one of whom was clearly of an age to have been Elizabeth’s father.15 He may be the right guy… but whoever he was, he’s gone before 1830.16

So… do we have any DNA matches to people whose trees have the Risdin/Risdon/Rysedon family? Yep. Are any of those tree people somebody other than Phana, wife of William Brewer? Nope. Are any of those trees documented in any way except to the William-Phana marriage bond? Nope. Do any of those trees show any other connection of the family to Wilkes County? Nope.

How about the Brewers in the trees of our DNA matches? Lots of them. Are any of those tree people somebody other than William, husband of Phana? Nope. Are any of those trees documented in any way except to the William-Phana marriage bond? Sure! To the William of the Revolutionary War, who never lived in Wilkes County. Do any of those trees show any other connection of the family to Wilkes County? Nope.

So… about that William…

Back to the drawing board.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “About that William…,” The Legal Genealogist (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : posted 30 Oct 2021).

SOURCES

  1. That’s only an estimate. I didn’t count them.
  2. See 1850 U.S. census, Cherokee County, Alabama, population schedule, 26th District, p. 6(A) (stamped), dwelling/family 75, Boston Shew household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 12 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M432, roll 3.
  3. Wilkes County, North Carolina, Marriage Bond, 1816, Boston Shew to Elizabeth Brewer; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  4. 1820 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 494 (stamped), Boston Shew household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Oct 2021); citing National Archive microfilm publication M33, roll 83.
  5. 1830 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 335 (stamped), Boston Shew household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Oct 2021); citing National Archive microfilm publication M19, roll 125.
  6. 1840 U.S. census, Grayson County, Virginia, p. 305 (stamped), Boston “Shoe” household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Oct 2021); citing National Archive microfilm publication M704, roll 555.
  7. 1850 U.S. census, Cherokee Co., Ala., pop. sched., 26th Dist., p. 6(A) (stamped), dwell./fam. 75, Boston Shew household.
  8. A possible reason is a courthouse fire in Cherokee County, Alabama, in 1882, that essentially wiped out the county’s records to that date. See Birmingham (Alabama) Iron Age, 1 June 1882, p. 3, col. 1; digital images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/ : accessed 30 Oct 2021).
  9. See 1860 U.S. census, Izard County, Arkansas, Franklin Township, population schedule, p. 349 (stamped), dwelling 150, family 148, Boston Shew household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Oct 2021); citing National Archive microfilm publication M653, roll 43.
  10. Affidavit of soldier, application no. S.3085, for service as Pvt., Capt. William Gholston’s company (N.C.); Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, microfilm publication M804, 2670 rolls (Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Service, 1974); digital images, Fold3 (https://www.Fold3.com : accessed 30 Oct 2021), William Brewer file, p. 6.
  11. John Haywood, A Manual of Laws, Part Second (Raleigh : J. Gales, 1814), 3; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/ : accessed 30 Oct 2021).
  12. Wilkes County, North Carolina, Marriage Bond, 1781, William Brewer to Phana Risdin; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  13. See Wilkes County Genealogical Society, 1787 Census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p.3; digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 30 Oct 2021).
  14. Yes, actually, I did do a line by line check… sigh…
  15. See 1820 U.S. census, Wilkes Co., N. C., pop. sched., p. 544 (stamped), William Brewer household.
  16. Yep, another line by line check.
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