Saturday, February 15, 2014
Elizabeth Mears (abt 1770 to 1842) is my 3rd great grandmother. I decided to write about her this week, because, while I do not know much about her, what I do know, I think is fairly interesting.
According to the biography of J. D. Sayre, her grandson, in The History Edgar County, Illinois,
“…his grandfather (David) came from Germany at an early date, he with his wife (Elizabeth) and two children, and a small party of others, were captured by the Indians at what is known as Three Islands on the Ohio,, and was marched across the county, to Detroit, MIch., where the “post trader” bought them of the savages to rescue them.”
Whether that is a true story or not, I have no idea, but it a good story.
Elizabeth and her husband settled first in Kentucky, and then in Brown County, Ohio. They had nine children: Mary (1786—Unknow); Samuel (1791—1853) Elizabeth (1796—Unknown); Catherine (1799-1888); William (1799-1873); Nancy (1801—1883); Jane (1903-1878); Charity (1806—1842); and Sarah Jane (1808-1899).
In 1822, her daughter Charity married John Hannah while in 1828 her daughter, Catherine, married Israel Donnelson Sayres. In 1830, Elizabeth’s husband, David, died.
As far as I can tell, in the year her husband died, Elizabeth moved to Edgar County, Illinois with her daughters, Charity and Catherine and their families. While the husband of both daughters bought land in Illinois, shortly after they arrived, what I find most interesting is that on February 21, 1831, Elizabeth bought 200 acres of land in Brouletts Township, specifically the northwest part of Section 11 in the Public Domain Land Sales. The cost of the land was $200. On March 7, 1838, she bought two more parcels of land in the public domain: first, the northeast section of the northwest quarter of Section 36 (40 acres) , in Prairie Township for $50, and second the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 35 (40 acres) for an additional $50. From looking over the data base of land sales in Edgar County, it was extremely unusual for a woman to buy land and I wonder how she used it. Did she have one or both of her son-in-laws farm it for her? Did she hire men and farm it herself?
The last piece of information about Elizabeth that I find interesting is her will. After the usual statements about paying for her funeral and her debts and bequeaths of some personal possessions, she directs that all the rest of her property be sold and the proceeds divided among her grandchildren and held in trust for them until they either marry or become 21 years of age. Now that sounds fairly typical, until one realizes that the only grandchildren who will receive anything are those that are named for her husband, David, or herself. It should come as no surprise that six of her children by the date of the will had children named David and/or Elizabeth. It appears that Mary, William and Nancy did not name their children David or Elizabeth. However, the will also states that should they have children of those names, those children would also share in the proceeds. I have not read a lot of old wills, but I think that making bequeaths only to those who are named for you or your husband rather strange and pretty eccentric.
If I could ask Elizabeth some questions, I would ask where she got the money to buy the land, who she lived with in Illinois, and why she restricted her bequeaths in the way she did.