By Nancy Stone
When you’re searching for an elusive ancestor, remember to read
the legal notices in those old newspapers. You may stumble across
several generations of descendants in one document. Follow the money!
Family feuds are a great source for genealogists and their lawyers
have already done the detective work and established relationships.
Joseph Thompson, of Monroe County, died
without a will in 1846. He left a wife, six sons, and two daughters.
Nearly a quarter of a century later, May 16, 1867, about 83 acres
(on the south side of what is now the junction of Highway 24 and
Business Highway 24 near Paris) was sold by the Sheriff on the steps
of the Monroe County Court House. The heirs had grown from the original
widow and eight children to property divisions as small as 11/112th
of the $979 that James S. Graham paid for the
land at the auction. For genealogists, once you wade through the
legal wordiness, the information included in not only probate, but
other court records can be a gold mine.
The original heirs of Joseph Thompson were: Lucy Thompson, widow;
sons Samuel, James, Smith, Edward, John and William; and daughters,
Nancy and Elizabeth.
Lucy Thompson died in 1864. Of her eight children, only Smith,
Samuel, Edward and Nancy survived her.
William Thompson started the division of interests that ended in
court. The year after his father’s death, he conveyed his interest
in the property in question to his brother John and to Jonathan
Troyman who owned adjoining property. He died
in 1854, but his brother James had died in 1849, leaving his interest
in the property divided between his mother and siblings. William’s
share of James’ share was then divided among the surviving heirs
of the father. William and James were apparently unmarried.
Nancy Thompson married George Duckworth.
They had conveyed their interest in the property from James over
to her brother Samuel, who then sold his interest to James S. Graham,
as did Edward Thompson.
Smith Thompson had been declared an “insane person” and his guardian
and curator, Alpheus Jackson, represented
him as a plaintiff.
John, who now had a full share plus partial interest in another
that his brother William had transferred to him, died in 1855. His
widow, Frances Thompson was the principal named plaintiff in the
suit that ultimately forced the sale of the property. John and Frances
had four children. Elrena, Mary Jane and David H. died without issue
before the suit was filed. Their daughter Martha E. married James
R. Jackson and was also a plaintiff.
Elizabeth Thompson had married a Donalson
and died before the suit was filed. Her children were Lucy Jane
Donalson, Sarah Ann Donalson, Joseph W. Donalson and Matilda F.
Donalson. They each claimed 1/4th of their mother’s 1/8th interest.
Lucy Jane Donalson married William Goodnight
and died in 1856. She had two children, Edward and William Goodnight.
Sarah Ann Donalson married George Norton and
died in 1858. Her only child was William Norton. Matilda Donalson
married Peter Furhman and with her husband
conveyed her undivided 1/4 of the undivided 1/7 interest in the
real estate to James S. Graham.
Because William Thompson had conveyed a part of his original interest
to Jonathan Troyman, who died without a will in 1855, the Troyman
children were also named in this suit. They were: Reuben Troyman;
Catherine Searcy, wife of Schuyler B. Searcy;
Drucilla Weatherford, widow of Joseph
Weatherford; Fanny Bryan, widow of Thomas Bryan;
Margaret Farrell, wife of Rufus Farrell; and
Mary Million wife of Burrell Million.