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Revercomb-Clem Puzzle

The information on this page was originally part of the Genealogical Society of Page County (GSPC) website. GSPC was dissolved in 2005. Permission has been granted for use by Teresa Kelley

The Revercomb-Clem Puzzle
An Update of Shenandoah (now Page) County, Virginia
by Joseph W. Baker

Page County marriage records state John Fox married Christena Revercomb. Their descendants maintained Christena was a Clem; also the death certificates of two of their sons, John William and Isaac, state their mother's maiden name was Christena Clem. The conflicting information has puzzled researchers for a long time. It has now been solved in part.

Christena's mother was Catherine Ruffner and their ancestry has been traced to Peter Ruffner, Sr., and his wife, Mary Steinman, early settlers on Hawksbill Creek. The town of Luray was formed from part of the Ruffner lands.

The first wife of Benjamin Ruffner, son of Peter Ruffner, Sr., was Ann Burner, the daughter of Jacob Burner, Sr. After Ann's death, Benjamin married Elizabeth Heiston/Hiestand, daughter of Peter Hiestand, Sr., on 28 June 1785. Benjamin died in 1808 and his children (including Catharine) were mentioned in his will (Shenandoah Co. Will Book F, pg. 456). Catharine shared in the inheritance of his estate (Shenandoah Co. Will Book I, pg. 109, 28 Aug 1813; final settlement July 1830). Which of Benjamin's wives was Catherine's mother? Information in the above will and in Shenandoah Co. Deed Book P, pg. 402, which lists the heirs of Jacob Burner, Sr., indicates she was not the daughter of Ann Burner. Although there is no extant record or other proof, she thus appears to have been the daughter of Elizabeth Heiston. After Benjamin's death, Elizabeth and some other family members moved to Fairfield County, Ohio, where she died on 20 January 1820, leaving no probate record.

Catherine gave birth to Christena on 3 July 1809, based on information in Christena's obituary and her tombstone inscription. Catharine, giving her surname as Ruffner, married Peter Clem about four years later on 13 June 1813. Reuben, an unmarried son, died intestate, and in a resulting lawsuit, Christena is identified as his half sister (Shenandoah Co. Chancery Court Case 59-03-59, March 1859).

Christena married John Fox on 25 February 1833 in Page County. She gave her surname as Revercomb on the marriage bond. No marriage or adoption records have been found connecting either Catharine or Christena with a Revercomb. According to personal property tax records, there were two Revercomb men living in the vicinity around 1807-1810 when Christena was born. The answer to the question as to why Christena assumed the Revercomb surname remains unresolved and will require further research.

After Peter Clem's death, Catharine married John Bushong, 2 April 1833, and had a daughter named Sarah, born ca. 1833, being 17 at the 1850 Page County Federal Census. After John Bushong's death, Catharine spent her last days with her son-in-law and daughter, John and Christena Fox, where she died in 1842 (Page Co. Will Book B, pg. 259). She probably chose to live with the Foxes because Christena was the oldest of her children with an established family.

There are three secondary references that ignore Catharine when listing the children of Benjamin Ruffner's two wives. They are:

  • William Staige Marye's 1835 manuscript, "Ruffner Family Genealogy" published in A Short History of Page County, Virginia, by Harry M. Strickler
  • Peter Ruffner and His Descendants, by Doris L. Ruffner and Olive T. Ruffner
  • Hiestand Family of Page County, Virginia by David B. Trimble

Marye's manuscript was probably the original source of the list. He should have know the Ruffner family since he married Mary, the daughter of Peter Ruffner, Jr., and Mary Burner. Why did Marye omit Catharine, and the Foxes insist Christena was a Clem? One cannot be sure, but perhaps they were embarrassed by circumstances surrounding Catharine and the birth of Christena.

Dee Clem, Kenneth E. Clem, and Barbara A. Burner contributed some of the information included in this article.

Comments or documented evidence that will help to further solve the mystery of this genealogical puzzle
should be sent to: Joseph W. Baker 421 Greenleaf Drive St. Louis, MO 63122