Friday, November 17, 2017

William Mason's Father

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

The search for William Mason's father has occupied the better part of four decades for me. William Mason was my great-great-great grandfather. He married my great-great-great grandmother Matilda Lewis in Madison County, Alabama in 1823.

They moved to the Hardin County, Tennessee area prior to 1850. By 1850 they were in Hopkins County, Texas with a houseful of children. According to the 1850 census, William Mason was born in Tennessee. By the late 1850s, William Mason had removed to Cass County, Texas and then Marion County, Texas, where he died, intestate, about 1857. Matilda seems to have predeceased him since she is not mentioned in his probate records.

William Mason's son Joseph M. M. Mason became his administrator, but son Joseph died just a couple of years after his father. By 1861, William's son-in-law Rutherford Porter Cawthon (my great-great grandfather) was the administrator of the estate. Among the estate papers is a guardianship petition, naming Rutherford P. Cawthan as the guardian of his own daughters, Leona Gray Cawthon and Mary Charlott Cawthon. This document makes reference to William Mason's father being deceased with an unsettled estate in Mississippi. That has always been an intriguing piece of information. However, William's father was unnamed in the petition as was the whereabouts of the estate in Mississippi.

It's been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

One strategy that I tried years ago, was to put queries on Mason genealogy message boards, asking if any Mason researchers had come across a Mason estate in Mississippi that contained any reference to a Rutherford Porter Cawthon. I figured that Rutherford had at least attempted to contact the administrators of that Mason estate in Mississippi. I never received a response. That left me to guess that there was no reference to R.P. Cawthon, or that the estate records were in a burned county, or that no one was researching that particular Mason family.

What's a person to do? Read all the Mason probate estate settlements in Mississippi? Well, yes, now that digitalized records make that task easier. Through Heritage Quest, I was able this evening to read the probate settlements in Mississippi that have been digitalized so far. I almost overlooked the one I needed because I was looking for Mason estates that predated 1861 because I figured that phantom estate record would actually predate William Mason's death in 1857.

The estate I've been searching for turned out to be for Joseph Mason of DeSoto County, Mississippi, case 543, dated 20 April 1861. The first page in this case file was the very document that I hoped to see. A document with R.P. Cawthan's name on it.

The next thing I hoped to see was a reference to William Mason of Texas as an heir. 

In this final decree, William Mason is not mentioned as being in Texas, and his heirs are unknown, but I'll take it. 

In the next folder were copies of the Marion County, Texas guardianship papers that Rutherford P Cawthon had drawn up for his daughters Leona Gray Cawthon and Mary Charlotte Cawthon!! These are labeled as part of case 543.

On 21 May 1861, the heirs of Joseph Mason, who received legacies were John Mason; Jeptha Langston adm. of M.J. Mason dec'd; George W. Mason; James S. Nelson; Richard S Young and wife; Mary Mason, a minor; R.S. Drake (or Duke) and wife R.J. Drake; John E. Van Pelt and wife C.O. Van Pelt; Ruth Lusk; Robert Kelsey and wife Mary Kelsey; unknown heirs of William Mason; and the heirs of Elizabeth Robertson. 

Now I need to figure out how all of these people are related to each other. Mostly, they are probably siblings. So far, I have figured out that Elizabeth's surname is probably Robinson and that she is the wife of David Robinson. If Joseph Mason did in fact marry Isabel Peoples (or Peebles) as his findagrave memorial in DeSoto County, Mississippi indicates, then they married in Carter County, Tennessee.  If that is the case, then based on my google search so far, some of their children may have married Lusk, Van Pelt, and Kelsey cousins.

Lots of new information to search for and play with and verify. Finally!!

Mother, Merry Christmas a bit early.

Revised: December 19, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Isaac Duncan's Will - Heritage Quest

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

As a young, beginning researcher, one of the first records that I requested by mail from Sebastian County, Arkansas was Isaac Duncan's will. The response I received was that there was no will or probate for him in Sebastian County. Years later, I had an opportunity to visit the Sebastian County Courthouse in Mansfield. At that time, I was told that all of their records were in storage because the building was being remodeled.

Over twenty years after that visit, I've located Isaac Duncan's will on Heritage Quest. To be fair, in my original request I may have asked for Ike Duncan's will. Many county clerk's offices only search for the name exactly as it appears on the record. I've also always suspected that it was easier to tell clients that the records did not exist than to provide a price quote and then have to photocopy and mail the record at a later date. If you can tell a clerk's office the exact book and page number on which a record appears, you are more likely to receive it. If you can't, then you can't really be sure if the record is there or not because you are at the mercy of the whims of the employees in the clerk's office. I'm finding that it is worth my time to continue to search for records that I was told did not exist and to search for them in the very place I was told they did not exist.

It turns out that up until now, I have only searched Heritage Quest superficially. You may have also done a superficial search and did not realize it. When you enter Heritage Quest, you will see only a handful of basic databases. However, if you click on the green button that says "Begin Searching," a whole new world opens up: wills and probates, city directories, and a collection of maps just to name a few. But wait, there's more. Scroll to the bottom of the page and there is an innocuous looking link called "More U.S. Records." Click on that one and hold on to your hat because holy-moly there's more! I'm going to playing in Heritage Quest for a long time to come.

Please enjoy Isaac Duncan's will, written on 2 November 1909 and filed in Sebastian County, Arkansas in 1910. It was right where it should have been all along. Now, of course, I need to locate his probate...

Isaac Duncan's will, Sebastian County Will's and Testaments, vol. A, 1881-1918

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Peter Self vs. Peter Smith Self

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

As I examine more and more of the records that I have available to me about “my” Peter Self of Benton County, Tennessee and Chatham County, North Carolina, I am becoming more and more convinced that Peter Self was not Peter Smith Self born 1 Feb 1786 in Northumberland County, Virginia. Admittedly, my search cannot be called exhaustive, but I think that an exhaustive search of records will eventually link my Peter Self to his family, whoever they were.

First, let’s examine their names. Peter Self never uses a middle name or middle initial in Benton County or Chatham County. This observation is based on the censuses for 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850; a Chatham County tax list; the estate settlement of Giles Vick; a land deed in Benton County in which land is deeded from Peter Self Sr. to Peter Self Jr.; and a lawsuit in Benton County, filed after Peter Self’s death. His son Peter Self/Selph Jr. also seems not to have a middle name or initial although he names his own son Peter Nunn Selph. Smith also does not reappear as a middle name within the first few generations of Peter Self’s family.

The next possible way to link the two Peter Selfs would be by establishing that they have the same birth date. Peter Smith Self’s birthdate is recorded as 1 Feb 1786 in Northumberland County, Virginia. That record also establishes that his parent are Moses and Nancy Self. My Peter Self is thought to be buried in the Ellis Cemetery in Benton County, Tennessee; however, there is no tombstone for him. No conclusions about Peter Self’s name or birthdate can be drawn from his tombstone. So far, it is not possible to link the two Peter Selfs together based on their birth dates.

The only record that we have that could be used to narrow down a birthdate for Peter Self is the 1850 Benton County, Tennessee census. Based on that census his birthdate would be c. 1785, which I think should be bracketed by at least year on either side, 1784-1786 although experience with the census has taught me that birth dates can be off by years.

To date, I’ve found no land deeds or estate settlements that would link Peter Self of Chatham County and Benton County to Moses Self or to another potential father. That leaves researching Moses Self to see what became of his son Peter Smith Self. My suspicion, based on my findings, is that Peter Smith Self probably did not survive infancy.

Some of the most detailed information about Moses Self comes from his Revolutionary War Pension file. In his pension application, written on 26 June 1820, Moses Self of Westmoreland County, Virginia, stated that his family consisted of “Himself aged about 60 years wife 53 years very sickly 3 children residing with him, 2 1 Boys 21 years old 2 girl 11 years old the other about 23 years old.”

Of these children, the 21 year old son would be Moses Self Jr. There are only a couple of reasons why the two was struck out and changed to a one. There is either a son who deceased, or a son who is not “residing” in the home, or the person writing the deposition just made a mistake. None of the children are named in his pension file.

Also in Moses Self’s file is the information that he was drafted in Northumberland County, Virginia in 1780, so he is the same Moses Self whose son Peter Smith Self was born in Northumberland County in 1786.

On 26 August 1839, Nancy Self stated in her widow’s application for a pension, based on being Moses Self’s service, that “she was married to the said Moses Self in the year 1785 but on what day or in what month she cannot recollect nor has she yet been able to find any record of her birth or marriage. That her husband the aforesaid Moses Self died on the 14th day of March 1835.”

On 16 September 1839, Jemimah Woolard of Westmoreland Co., Virginia, gave the following deposition: “…I was well acquainted with Nancey Smith who was Nancey Self before her marriage with Moses Self, that A few days before her marriage she requested of me to wait on her as Bridesmaid which I did and went with her to Parson Gibbrom and saw the said Nancey and Moses lawfully married, I returned with and waited on them the balance of the day which was about the first of October 1785. I have lived a near neighbor to them ever since until the death of the said Moses Self which was near the middle of March 1835.”

William Wright of Westmoreland Co., Virginia swore on 23 November 1839 that “the law of Virginia has acknowledged the said Nancey Self to be the said Moses Selfs lawful widow by giving her one third of the said Moses Selfs property after his death.”

This last tidbit indicates that there should be a probate settlement for Moses Self. Moses Self’s estate sale was held on 10 December 1835. Among those making purchases were Moses Self Jr., his brother-in-law Daniel Hardwick, his mother Mrs. Self, and his sister Peggy Lusby is mentioned. A Peter Self is conspicuously absent. This sale may be found on pages 255-258 and pages 303 – 304 of Westmoreland County, Virginia Records & Inventories, vo. 17-18, 1835-1840, LDS film 34320. I have not yet found a settlement that awards a third of Moses Self's property to his widow Nancy.

Among Moses Self’s Revolutionary War pension documents is this one:  On 29 November 1839, Benedict Walker, of Westmoreland County wrote that “I have seen Mrs. Nancy Self and she declares to me that no family register or her marriage or record of the baptisms of her children is to be found as she knows of on earth, she further states that she does not at this time remember that her children has been baptized or what she calls it christened.” To this statement he felt compelled to add this postscript: “P.S. I am well acquainted with Mrs. Nancy Self and do consider her to be an unlearned poor ignorant woman.”

If you did the math with me, Peter Smith Self would have born a bit “early.” Nancy (Smith) Self may have conveniently forgotten the exact date of her marriage.

The second document for Moses Self Sr. stems from a lawsuit brought long after his death. That lawsuit can be viewed here.

In 1873 this lawsuit between Thomas Scott and wife vs. Moses Self et al had apparently been waging for several years since some documents date back to 1866. The crux of the suit was that Matthias Self had died intestate leaving eight children to whom his land descended. By the late 1860s all of Matthias’s children and grandchildren were deceased. This left the surviving heirs of Matthias’s siblings and his wife’s family to lay claim to the estate. What unfolds within the 71-page file is an extensive list of relatives.

From the file, it can be determined that Matthias had a full blood sister, name unknown, who married a Cookman and then a Tellis. Matthias had a half-brother named Moses who “died long ago.” Moses left a son named Moses Self, “now living in Richmond County.” Matthias had two additional half- brothers: Thomas Self, who married a Bancroft and then married a second time to Alice Short, and John Self.

 A deposition from 85 year old Elizabeth Harrison of Northumberland County, Virginia, was taken on 11 January 1866:

“Matthias Self left eight children—Betsy Hill, Nancy Cole and I think Billy Lane was next, then Bennie, who married Dozier, & Hannah Tessel-maybe she was older than Bennie, John Posey, Thomas Chinn (I believe he was older than John) & Fannie who was the youngest of them all. None of them ever married or had children except Bennie who married a Dozier and had one child named Joseph who lived to be a young man and died in 1862 without ever having been married. All Matthias Self’s children died before Joseph Dozier except Nancy & Fannie both of whom died last year. [Matthias Self] married a Cole, I think her name was Nancy. She had a brother named Billy Cole who was the father of Jeremiah Steven’s first wife.

Matthias Self had a sister, I am not certain whether she was an own sister of a half sister. She married a Cookman first, and had a son named Thomas Cookman, afterward she married a man named Tellis; she had no children that I know of by Tellis. Matthias Self had three half brothers that I know of, Thomas, John, & Moses. Thomas married a Beercroft and had four children-Alsey, Petty, Matty Y Blinker. All died single and without issue except Peggy who married Edward Richardson and left two children, the present Thomas Richardson and Margaret who married John Harrison and who is still living. Thomas Self was married a second time to my sister Alsey Short and had two children – one named Joseph (the other I think died when she was very little) who went away from this country but left one daughter the present and second wife of Jeremiah Stephens. Moses Self the half brother of Matthias Self married Nancy Smith, I think, and was the father of the present Moses Self of Richmond County. He had no other children that I know of. John Self the other half brother married Betsy Lewis and daughters Polly who is now living on the Telfland, Betsy who died young, and Hannah who moved away and was not married at the time. Also a son named John died young the same night that Betsy died for I set up with them at the time.”

A deposition from Albert Davis, age 54, Northumberland County, was taken on 13 August 1867:

“Did you know Nancy Self and her brothers & sisters?

I knew them all, but much better acquainted with, Misses Nancy, Fany & Terry Chin than I was with the older sisters. Knew Moses Self the father of the present Moses Self well – Moses Self left three children the present Moses, Susan & Peggy. Susan married David Hardwick, died leaving 3 children, Sarah, Ann, Aaron. Peggy married Lesly leaving one son Thomas Lesly & she then married Hiaxly had one child but died without issue. Sarah married married Albert Davis. Ann married Richard Courtney leaving two children – named William and Arthur.”

Based on the settlement made in this lawsuit, it can be determined that the following were Matthias Self’s siblings and his siblings’ children:

1.       Mrs. Cookman full sister of Matthias Self
                 Ch.: Thomas Cookman
2.       Thomas Self, a half-brother,
                 Ch.: Peggy Self m. Thomas Richardson
                               Ch.: Thomas Richardson
                              Mary Richardson married Harrison
3.       Joseph Self, a half-brother
                Ch.: daughter married Jeremiah Stephens
4.       John Self, a half-brother
                 Ch.:       Polly Self
                                Hannah Self
5.       Moses Self, a half-brother
                Ch.:        Moses Self, Jr.
                               Susan Self m. David Hardwick
                                               Ch.:        Sarah Hardwick m. Albert Davis
                                                              Ann Hardwick m. Richard Courtney
                                                                              Ch.: William Courtney
                                                                             Arthur Courtney
                               Peggy Self m. Lusly or Lusby
                                               Ch.: Thomas Lusly or Lusby

Since the purpose of the depositions was to gather information on all the possible heirs of Matthias Self, Peter Smith Self should have been mentioned. If Peter Self of Benton County had also been Peter Smith Self, he would have been named in this record even though he was deceased because he had children who would have been heirs of Matthias Self. However, there is no Peter Self named as a child of Moses Self in the lawsuit. These leads me to believe that Peter Smith Self did not survive to adulthood.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

F.N.W. Burton Pay Voucher

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

Isn't this shiny and pretty? It's a War of 1812 pay voucher made out to F. N. W. Burton, aka Frank Nash Williams Burton, on 18 July 1814 for $69.30. Additionally, it shows that he served as Aid to Governor Hawkins.

When Frank Burton's wife, Lavinia (Murfree) Burton, applied for a widow's pension based on Frank's service, she stated that he was an aid to Governor Hawkins. However, she had no documentation. Since F.N.W. Burton could not be found among the North Carolina service records, Lavinia was denied the pension that she needed. Here's her documentation--over 100 years too late.

Halloween 2017

Happy trick or treating and ancestor hunting....

Friday, October 27, 2017

Iley N. Selph in Allison, Colorado

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

On 3 June 1920, Iley Nunn Selph, resigned from his position as agent with the New Mexico Central Railroad [N.M. C.] in Estancia, New Mexico. He had only held the position for a few months. The local newspaper reported that he would be returning to his former job with the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad [D. & R. G.]. I speculated in an earlier post that he may have also returned to his former residence in La Madra Village.

It turns out that just a few days before the announcement of Iley’s resignation, the Ignacio Chieftain excitedly reported that Allison, Colorado had been slated for a depot that would have a station agent:

I don’t know how long it took to build the depot at Allison. I don’t know where Iley Nunn Selph went after he left Estancia, but by December 1922, he was the station agent with his old employer, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, at Allison, Colorado:

By the New Year, he was enjoying Allison society:

Within another month, he was building a house at Allison. That surprises me since, his railroad positions seemed to keep him moving.

Since the railroads were the major employers in small towns west of the Mississippi, the promotions and transfers of their officials was routinely reported in local newspapers. As more newspapers are digitalized, I hope to find more references to Iley N. Selph’s movements.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Two Azariah Holcombs

© Kathy Duncan, 2017

The two Azariah Holcombs were very likely first cousins, born only a couple of years apart. The only similarity between them is their name. However, many descendants in my line insist on confusing them, merging them, and muddling them up in a variety of ways.

Normally, confusion of this sort results when two men of the same name live in the same place in the same time period. Sorting them out requires the usual tools of genealogy research: documents, math-- sometimes a calculator comes in handy, maps--or just a basic sense of U.S. geography, and logic—an ability to connect the dots. Presently, DNA test results are used, but more of that later. The one tool that you won’t find on my list or in my toolbox is a sledge hammer. I know a lot of researchers resort to a sledge hammer when the dots don’t connect; they just pound that square peg into a round hole until wedges into place. Why? Probably because it seems to eliminate uncertainty. Maybe because it nets them a “desirable” lineage. Ultimately, the sledge hammer method is, at its worst, unethical and, at its best, sloppy and lazy.

Now, to the two Azariah Holcombs. I am going to refer to them here as “the other Azariah Holcomb” or “the New York Azariah Holcomb” because he was born in New York as opposed to “my Azariah Holcomb” or “the Missouri Azariah Holcomb” because he was born in Missouri.

First up, the other Azariah Holcomb, who was born in Sand Lake, New York and died in Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania. His tombstone, which can be viewed on his Findagrave memorial states that his birth date was May 8, 1802, and his death date was May 9, 1889. He shares his tombstone with his wife Mary Ann, who was born Feb. 1, 1812 and died Sept. 12, 1903. They are buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery in Sugar Grove, Warren County, Pennsylvania.

This Azariah Holcomb’s birth date exactly matches the birthdate of the son of Azariah Holcomb Sr. and his wife Christina Shephard as provided in Azariah Holcomb Sr’s Revolutionary War pension file.

Notice the long list of siblings for Azariah Holcomb Jr. that are provided here. They include Melita Holcomb, Junia or Junius Holcomb, Michal Holcomb (a daughter), Lunia Holcomb, Azariah Holcomb, Marianne Holcomb, Aretus Lyman Holcomb, Christina Holcomb, Gilson Holcomb, John S. Holcomb, and Lamira Holcomb. 

Note there is also a Mary Ann P. Cole or Cale born whose birth date is only a few days different from the birthdate of Azariah Jr.’s wife Mary Ann, who shares a tombstone with him. Evidently, Azariah and Christina Holcomb’s bible also contains the birth records of some of their children’s spouses.
Azariah Holcomb Sr.’s Revolutionary War Pension file is also important because it contains his statement of where he resided after the war:

Note that Azariah Holcomb Sr. states he was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, and after the war he moved to Vermont, where he lived for three years. Unfortunately, he does not state how soon after the war he moved to Vermont. Then he moved to Sand Lake, New York where he lived continuously for the next forty years or so. Since his deposition was given in 1832, we can count backward from 1832.  That would mean he was in Sand Lake, New York from roughly 1792 to 1832, possibly earlier. That means that he was not living in Missouri during those years. Therefore, the children listed in his bible were born in New York. Also, since he married Christina Shephard in 1789 and she survived him, Christina is the mother of all of his children.

My conclusion:  Azariah and Christina (Shephard) Holcomb of Sand Lake, New York had a son named Azariah Holcomb Jr., born on May 8, 1802. Azariah Holcomb Jr. married Mary Ann P. Cole or Cale and moved to Sugar Grove, Warren County, Pennsylvania.  Based on census records, Azariah and Mary Ann lived in Warren County from at least 1850 until his death in 1889.

Warren Co., PA, 31 July 1850:

Azariah Holcomb  50 NY
Marian ----- 38 NY
Sylvester ------ 18 PA
Philander ------ 16 PA
Sherman ------ 14 PA
Almira ------ 10 F PA

Russelburgh, Warren Co., PA, 20 July 1860:

Ezeriah Holcomb  64 NY
Mary ----- 54 NY
Sherman ----- 25 PA
Norman ------ 3 PA

Warren Co., PA 25 July 1870:

Holcomb, Azariah  68 NY
-----, Mary 58 NY
-----, Norman 14 PA

Warren Co., PA 16&17 June 1880:

Holcomb, Azariah 78 NY fb. CT mb. NY
-----Mary A. 68 NY fb. NY mb. NY

Note that the other Azariah gives his father’s birth place as Connecticut and his mother’s as New York.

Next up, my Missouri Azariah Holcomb, who was a very different person from the other Azariah Holcomb of Warren County, Pennsylvania. While he is a very different person, it takes much more effort to connect his dots.

My Azariah Holcomb, according to his bible record, was born in 1800:

According to the 1850 and 1860 census records, he was born in Missouri.

14 Nov 1850 McDonald Co., MO, 53rd Dist, p. 116:

Azariah Holcomb 50 MO
Susan   54 KY
Minerva  18 MO
Azariah Oliver 15 MO
Hulda   11 MO

1 June 1860 McDonald Co., MO, Rutledge Twp:

Azariah Holcomb 59 M Farmer $200-$20 b. MO
Susan Holcomb 63 F b. MO
A.O. Holcomb 25 M Miner b. Seneca Nation
Elizabeth Nelson 4 F b. MO
[Elizabeth Nelson was the daughter of Azariah and Susan Holcomb's daughter Minerva (Holcomb) Crook Nelson]

Azariah's birthplace is also consistently reported as being Missouri by his children who survived to 1880. However, there was no Missouri in 1800. Instead, there was a Louisiana Territory. My guess is that he was identifying his birth place as being in the area that later became Missouri.

In 1833, Azariah Holcomb is living and working at the Seneca Sub-Agency in what is now Delaware County, Oklahoma. He was hired because he was James Pool's brother-in-law. James Pool married Azariah’s sister Phoebe Holcomb in the home of Benajah Brown of Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri in 1824.

Phoebe Holcomb had a half-brother named James Brown. It is likely that Benajah Brown was Phoebe’s step-father and James Brown’s father. That would mean that her mother had married Brown after the death of her Holcomb father. Therefore, her father was deceased by 1824.

Phoebe Pool and Azariah Holcomb are named as the siblings of Enoch Holcomb in his probate. 

Specifically, the siblings of Enoch Holcomb are listed as being:

-Isaac Holcomb brother of decd who resides in St. Louis County
-Nathaniel Holcomb brother of decd who resides in California
-Azariah Holcomb
-The children of Esther Jameson who was a sister of dec who reside in the Southwestern part of the state of Missouri
-The children of Phoebe Pool whose residence is unknown

The birth order of these Holcomb siblings is roughly this:

Esther Holcomb b.c. 1796 in Tennessee
Enoch Holcomb b.c. 1799 in Missouri
Azariah Holcomb b.c. 1800 in Missouri
Isaac Holcomb b.c. 1803 in Missouri
Nathaniel Holcomb b.c. 1805 in Missouri
Phoebe Holcomb's exact birth year cannot be determined because she died prior to the 1850 census. On the 1840 census she is 30 - 39 years old, which places her birth between 1801 and 1809. Since Phoebe married James Pool in 1824, her birth date would be closer to 1801, making her anywhere from 23 to 14 at the time of her marriage. Since there is no consent given for her, she was likely of age.
Hannah Holcomb b.c. 1812 in Missouri
James Brown  b.c. 1818 in Missouri

Since Enoch’s probate does not name a brother James Brown, that suggests that Enoch Holcomb and James Brown do not share the same mother. Given the range of these children’s births, 1796 to 1818, it is possible that their father had two wives. However, the fact that the Browns only seem to have had one child suggests a woman at the end of her child bearing years, so all of these children may have had the same mother, and James Brown’s omission from Enoch Holcomb’s estate settlement may be an oversight.  

More importantly, note that none of these children was born in New York. Their father is deceased by 1817, and their mother has remarried a Brown. Their mother cannot be Christina (Shephard) Holcomb, whose husband Azariah is still living in New York in 1818 when James Brown was born in Missouri.

So who is my Azariah Holcomb’s father? My favorite candidate is a Nathaniel Holcomb who was living in Ste. Genevieve, Louisiana Territory [now Missouri] in 1805 and 1806 when he was sued by William Cochran's estate for a debt of about $50.

Signature from William Cochran dec'd lawsuit

In 1806, he signed a petition in Ste Genevieve in the Louisiana Territory.

He was deceased by 1818 when Titus Strickland, acting as guardian to his heirs, was trying to clear up the title for land in Missouri. Strickland's efforts continued through 1820. To date, the names of the heirs of Nathaniel Holcomb are unknown.

My final conclusion is that only one of the two Azariah Holcomb’s can be the son of Azariah and Christina (Shephard) Holcomb, and that their son was the other Azariah Holcomb—the one who married Mary Ann and died in Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania.

If my Azariah Holcomb's father Nathaniel Holcomb, then who was Nathaniel connected to and how could the two Azariah’s be cousins?? Nathaniel Holcomb was likely the missing Nathaniel Holcomb VI, son of Nathaniel Holcomb V and Hannah Holcomb, and a brother to the Azariah Holcomb who married Christina Shephard. Obviously, a lot more research needs to be done to establish who Azariah Holcomb's father was and what his connection was to the Holcombs of Connecticut.