Ancestor Biography – Mercy Eliza Taft  (1822-1884)

Roberts/Barnes/Taft Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.When I reviewed my possible connections through “We’re Related” to Walt Disney and to my Scarborough Historical friend, Carl, both were stopped by my research blockage at Mercy Eliza Taft.  After Mercy, both lines went through her father, Joel Cruff Taft. My research on Mercy convinced me that her father was indeed Joel and her grandmother was Sarah Whitney, which brings me two generations closer to proving a relationships with both Walt Disney and Carl.

Minuteman – Lexington

While doing this research I also encountered many new and exciting things. Fifth great-grandfather, Silas Taft is a Revolutionary War veteran and was part of the “Lexington Alarm” which was the first real battle of the Revolution in 1775. More about him in a later post. Also, I learned that William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is my 5th cousin, 4 times removed. Taft is the only person to ever be both POTUS and the Chief Justice.

Roberts-Barnes 2017 Research – Ancestor #21

List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: Elsie Pansy Barnes
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Joel Clinton Barnes
  • 2nd Great-grandmother: Mercy Eliza Taft
  • 3rd Great-grandfather: Joel Cruff Taft
  • 4th Great-grandfather: Asa Taft
  • 5th Great-grandfather: Silas Taft
  • 6th Great-grandfather: Stephen Taft
  • 7th Great-grandfather: Benjamin Taft
  • 8th Great-grandfather: Robert Taft

Mercy Eliza (Taft) Barnes (1822-1884)

There is confusion regarding Mercy’s first name. Some researchers believe her name was Mary. I think that it is even possible that her first name might have been Marcy or even Mancy. In reviewing the records, I am yet to find a source that I feel is compelling enough to prove her name. People who have seen her grave marker indicate that her name is Mercy. Certainly, her Christian name if Eliza is used in the majority of records regarding her. I’ve decided to use Mercy until I find a compelling source.

Map of Sullivan County showing Fairbanks Township.

Fairbanks Township in Sullivan County, Indiana

Mercy Eliza Taft was the second of ten children of Joel Cruff and Tamise/Fanny Sutherland/Southerland, born in New York on 27 March 1822.[i] It appears that all of her siblings live to adulthood. It does appear that the family moved several times in New York before part of the family split off and settled in Fairbanks Township, Sullivan County, Indiana.

Eliza married Nelson Barnes in New York on 31 October 1839.[ii] Their first daughter, who has one of the most unusual names I’ve ever encountered, Tryphenia Ann Barnes was born on 11 Oct 1841 in New York. The following year the young family moved west to Indiana (1842) by covered wagon and camped near Fairbanks. They started out renting farmland, then slowly purchased land until they had 80 acres.

Over the ensuing years, Nelson and Eliza would have nine children. They are:

Children of Nelson and Mercy Eliza Taft

Children: Sex Birth Death
Tryphenia Ann Barnes F 11 Oct 1841
New York
03 Nov 1915
Turman, Ind.
Ploutina Mariah Barnes F 09 May 1844
New York*
23 Mar 1918
Indiana
Theodore E Barnes M 29 Mar 1847
Sullivan, Ind.
06 Aug 1919
Danville, Ill.
Susan Barnes F Bet. 1848-1849
Indiana
Bef. 1909
Abraham Barnes M 04 Mar 1852
Indiana
20-Jan-21
Cyrus John Barnes M 04 Apr 1855
Sullivan, Ind.
17 Feb 1879
Sullivan, Ind.
Joel Clinton Barnes M 23 Jun 1857
Graysville, Ind.
30 Jun 1921
Sullivan, Ind.
Lucy Minerus Barnes F 18 Apr 1860 05 Sep 1890
Martha Ellen Barnes F Sullivan, Ind. 16 Feb 1949

*I believe that Ploutina was born in Indiana and not New York.

  • Mercy on left base, Nelson on Right base

    1850 – Living with husband and four oldest children in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[iii]

  • 1860 – Living with husband and six of the children in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[iv]
  • 1870 – Living with husband and five of the children in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[v]
  • 1880 – Living with husband one of her children and one of her granddaughters in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[vi]
  • 1884 – Her husband Nelson died in either January or February.[vii],[viii]
  • 1884 – Eliza died on 4 October 1884 in Turman, Sullivan County Indiana. She was buried at the Drake Cemetery in nearby Fairbanks, Sullivan County, Indiana.[ix]  I find the image available through Find-a-Grave isn’t clear enough to determine the name used on the marker.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Find the Taft Family in the 1840 Census.
  • Find the Taft Family in the 1830 Census.
  • Visit the Drake Cemetery and see if I can get a better image of her marker to confirm the name she was known by at the time of her death.

Endnotes:

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