Monday, October 20, 2014

Matrilineal Monday: MARY ANN BROWN and Others, Plaintiffs Vs. MARY A. WHITE and Others, Defendants, Chancery Cause, Augusta Co., VA, 52 Ancestors

Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, Staunton, VA, April 4, 1902 issue
Staunton Spectator and Vindicator,
Staunton, Virginia
April 4, 1902 edition 

Mary Ann Brown and Mary A. White were cousins, daughters of sisters, and granddaughters of John Zimmerman, a German emigrant to Augusta County, Virginia. 

The named defendant, Mary A. White, is my 2nd Great Grandmother born Mary Agnes Brown to James Alexander Brown and Mary A. Carpenter/Zimmerman. Mary Agnes would later become the wife of John William White. Her mother, Mary A. Carpenter, (also known as Zimmerman—Zimmerman is a German word meaning carpenter) was John Zimmerman and Elizabeth Weed’s daughter born May 15, 1819. The codefendants were 2nd Great Grandmother’s brothers—Henry Weed Brown and Isaac Stuart Brown.

The named plaintiff, Mary Ann Brown, born Mary Ann White to James R. White and Louisa W. Carpenter/Zimmerman would marry Fulton W. Brown in Augusta County, Virginia. Her mother, Louisa W. Carpenter/Zimmerman was my 3rd Great Aunt, also a daughter of John Zimmerman and Elizabeth Weed born July 3, 1816. Mary Ann (White) Brown’s siblings, John Clemens White, Martha Jane White, James Franklin White and Lucinda Catherine Douglas were the ‘other’ plaintiffs.

The Browns and White’s intermarried on a few occasions so I prepared the following relationship chart for the cousins to help understand the lineage.

Chancery Case 1907-043 revolves around 75 acres John Zimmerman owned in the South River District. In his will probated March 23, 1858, 4th Great Grandfather John Zimmerman left his property and house to my 3rd Great Grandmother, Mary Ann (Carpenter/Zimmerman) Brown “for life”. I was a little unnerved when I read John Zimmerman’s will and realized he explicitly stated he wanted to provide ‘a home not subject to the debts of her husband now or hereafter contracted nor subject to his control in any wise’. He appointed his friend John S. Ellis a trustee for Mary Ann during her lifetime. Oh dear, I imagine 3rd Great Grandfather James A. Brown was not happy about that!

Grandfather Zimmerman also stipulated after Mary Ann’s death the tract of land was to be equally divided between her heirs and those of his other daughter, Louisa Miller. (When the will was probated, Louisa was married to her 2nd husband, Daniel Miller.)

3rd Great Grandmother lived on the land for many years. Her sister Louisa moved with her children to Coffey County, Kansas shortly after the Civil War. Aunt Louisa died in 1888 and 3rd Great Grandmother passed in 1898.

By March 1902 it was time for the sisters’ children to get an equal share of the lands. It was determined that the land wasn’t able to be partitioned and Commissioner William Patrick deemed the lands would be sold at public auction. 

John W. White, Mary Agnes’ husband, offered to buy the lands for $800 which was considered a fair price February 6, 1907.

It seemed as though the Commissioner was receptive to the sale until J. J. Palmer appeared in open court and offered an advanced bill of $850 at which price ‘the land was knocked off to him’.

It had taken five years for the case to be finally heard and settled on October 10, 1907. Plaintiff Mary A. (White) Brown had died in the meantime (September 1902) and her share was divided between her children—Benjamin Brown, E. B. Brown, H. H. Brown, R. B. Brown and C. L. Brown.

Louisa’s other children, John C. White, James Franklin White, Martha J. White and Lucinda Catherine Douglas individually received $85.60.

2nd Great Grandmother Mary Agnes White and her brothers, Henry Weed and Isaac Stuart Brown each got $85.63.

FUN FACT: Now if you’re up to more family fun and confusion, here’s a new fact:

2nd Great Grandmother’s husband, James Alexander Brown and Fulton W. Brown, the husband of plaintiff Mary A. (White) Brown was half-brothers.

My Line
4th Great Grandparents John Zimmerman (aka John Carpenter) and Elizabeth Weed
3rd Great Grandmother Mary A. Carpenter and husband James Alexander Brown
2nd Great Grandmother Mary Agnes Brown and husband John William White
Great Grandmother Ella Virginia White and husband James Clyde Clemmer
Grandmother Lucy Leora Clemmer and husband James McFall Joseph
My Father

Source: Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia, Digital Collections, Chancery Records Index website

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