Ancestor #34 – Thomas A Pankey (c. 1760-1829)

 Howell-Darling-2016 Research
Howell/Pankey Line

By Don Taylor

Burning of Washington DC in 1814.
Burning of Washington DC in 1814.

Sadly, the 1790 Census and the 1800 Census records for Virginia were lost. Apparently destroyed by the British during the war of 1812. This loss has a major effect on tracing this family line during the time before 1810. Additionally, many genealogies regarding Thomas are sparse or contain conflicting information.  For example, one researcher indicates that his step-mother is Betsey Kinsey Pankey and that his sister was Betsey Kinsey Pankey.  These other sources also indicate a lot of conflicting information.  As such, this generation is difficult to trace and understand the family relationships. As such, additional research is needed.

 List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: James Dallas Howell (1879-1964)
  • 1st Great: Peter Fletcher Howell (1842-1924)
  • 2nd Great: Carolina M. A. Pankey (c. 1811-?)
  • 3rd Great: Thomas A. Pankey (c. 1760-1829)
  • 4th Great: Samuel Pankey (1738-1807)


Thomas A. Pankey

Thomas A. Pankey was probably born between 1755 and 1765. The 1810 Census shows him as the head of household and over 45 years of age, clearly indicating that he was born before 1765.  Several other researchers have stated that he was born after 1755; however, I have been unsuccessful in finding a source for that assertion.

Other researchers report that Thomas had several siblings, Philip, John and Samuel Hardin Pankey may be his brothers and Lelah may be a sister and possibly Betsy Kinsey Pankey, although other research indicates that Betty Kinsey Binford was his mother.  Having a daughter with the same first and middle name as the mother is unusual but not unheard of. I need to do further research into the siblings of Thomas.

Thomas Pankey married Martha Cannon in November 1785 in Goochland County, Virginia. One source, Elizabeth Petty Bentley, indexer of Virginia Marriage Records 1700-1850, [via Ancestry.Com] indicates their marriage was 25 November 1875. Meanwhile, James Dodd, in Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1660-1800 states that Thomas Pankey married Martha Cannon on 1 Nov 1785 in Goochland County, Virginia. Further research is needed to eliminate the conflict. Some records suggest that Martha Cannon and Martha Leggon are the same person. If so, then it appears that Thomas and Martha had at least seven children:

  1. Mary Y                                    Born c. 1792, Married Ellis Armistead
  2. Nancy Branch                       Born c. 1794, d. c1865
  3. Thomas Armstrong             Born c. 1799, d. 1875
  4. Elizabeth                               Born c. 1805, m. Samuel Scott (c. 1830),
  5. Francis                                   Born c. 1807, D. 1870
  6. Caroline M. A.                      Born c. 1811, d. after 1860.
  7. Henrietta                               Married before 1830.

Census Records

  • 1790 Census – Missing.
  • 1800 Census – Missing.
  • 1810 Census – Cumberland County, Virginia.
  • 1820 Census – Cumberland County, Virginia.

In 1826, Cumberland County Virginia had $350 of debt transferred to the estate of John P. Price.

Thomas A. Pankey died in June of 1829.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Further research the siblings of Thomas A. Pankey.
  • Clear up the conflict of marriage date (1 Nov or 25 Nov 1785).
  • Further research the children of Thomas A. Pankey.


  • Com: 1810 Census – Thomas Pankey – Cumberland County, Virginia
  • Com: 1820 Census – 1820 Census – Thomas Pankey – Cumberland County, Virginia
  • Library of Virginia: CUMBERLAND CO VA Chancery Causes, 1764-1912
  • Jackson, Michael Edmund: via Geni People – Thomas Pankey –
  • Howell, Peter M.: The Life and Travels of Peter Howell: In Which will be seen some Marvelous Instances of the Gracious Providence of God. Newbern, N.C.:  H. Mayhew, 1849.
  • Virginia, Compiled Marriages, 1660-1800 (compiled by Jordan Dodd); Thomas Pankey & Martha Cannon.
  • Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850; Page 202 – Thomas Pankey & Martha Cannon


————- DISCLAIMER ————-

Ancestor Biography – Mary Electa Parsons (1828-1888)

Roberts/Brown 2016 Research

Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line

By Don Taylor

List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: Richard Earl Brown
  • 1st Great: Arthur Durwood Brown
  • 2nd Great: Marion Sanford
  • 3rd Great: Mary Electa Parsons
  • 4th Great: Chester Parsons
  • 5th Great: John Parsons [Jr.]
  • 6th Great: John Parsons [Sr.]

Ancestor #51 – Mary Electa Parsons (1828-1888)

I recently wrote about the inconsistency of birthdates for individuals through the various census records. (See: Arthur Durwood Brown – Born 1869.) Mary Electa (Parsons) Sanford is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. She only ages four years during the decade between 1850 and 1860. Records that provide a month for her birth are consistent – September.

Assuming she was born in September, the Census records infer birth years of 1926, 1827, 1828, 1829, and 1833. So, I thought I’d do a birth table for her showing the data and source I have for it. I found it interesting to note that that the book suggests 1828 as her birth year, a year not inferred by any of the Census records. But which record would provide the proof?

Table – Potential Birth Years for Mary Electa Parsons Sanford.

Record Age or Date Stated Birth Year
1840 Census [1 of 2 females age 10 to Under 15) [1825 to 1830]
1845 Marriage Record Age 17, Saline, Michigan* Infers 1828
1850 Census Age 22, Michigan Infers 1827
1860 Census Age 26 Infers 1833
1870 Census Age 40 Infers 1829
1880 Census Age 52, Michigan Infers 1827
1881 – History of Washtenaw… Sep. 14, 1828, Saline Tp. [MI] 14 Sep 1828
1885 Census Age 58, Michigan Infers 1826
1888 – Marker (FaG) 1829 1829
2015 – Find a Grave Sep. 14, 1828, Washtenaw Co., MI 1828

I have been unable to find a primary source for her birthday.  The “best” record I have regarding her birth year is her marriage return. I have found state filed marriage records to be very accurate regarding the date of the marriage, but not so accurate regarding the ages of the bride and groom. Couples often give their ages as compliant to the laws of the state and not necessarily their actual age. I have also seen records where a man said his age was many years younger than he was when he was marrying a woman half his age.  I decided to look closely at the Census and other records to provide enough background to be able to look at the marriage return critically. I marveled that Mary Electra only aged four years between the 1850 and 1860 Censuses. To her credit, she aged fourteen years between 1860 and 1870. Most confusing is that her burial marker shows the birth year of 1829 the History of Washtenaw… indicates 1928.

If Mary’s birthday was 14 September and she married at 17 years of age on 29 October 1845, she would have to have been born on 1828. If she were older, there would not have been any reason to make herself younger. If she were younger, she might have needed to age herself up to fulfill legal requirements.

For quite a while I favored the 1850 and 1880 Censuses that suggest a 1827 birthdate. In 1860, she identified herself as much younger than she was.  Again in 1870, she identified herself as somewhat younger than she was. I think a very telling document about her is her marker.  It indicates that she was younger than any of the other documents (expect for the 1860 Census). So, it seems her friends and family, who had the marker carved, thought she was younger than she was.

Snapshot of William Sanford and Mary Parsons's Marriage Return
Marriage Return Miss Mary Parsons age 17 years 29 day of Oct 1845

For me, the marriage return is the closest document I have and that leaves me in something of a quandary.  I have not been able to find what the law was in 1845. I know that Michigan’s age of consent without parental approval was 18 in 1887. However, I couldn’t find a law before that.  Was there a reason for Mary Electa to make herself a year older?  I don’t know the answer. It could be. However, in the absence of a compelling reason to believe otherwise, I’ve decided to accept the year of birth reported in The History of Washtenaw County… and reported by the Marriage Return and not the year chiseled into her marker or any of the Census records.

By the way, The History of Washtenaw County… reported her marriage as 9 Nov 1845 and not 29 Oct 1845, as stated in the Marriage Return. Being wrong in one fact reduces the creditability for the other events in the book and concern me greatly. If anyone knows of any other records which provide a clear answer to the year of Mary Electa Parson’s birth, I’d love to learn of it.  Please comment below. Also, if you know a good source regarding what laws affected marriage with and without consent in Michigan in 1845, I’d love to learn about the source.


Mary Electa Parsons was the third of seven children of Chester and Deborah Buel (Maben) Parsons.  She had three older siblings and one sibling who died before she was born. They are:

  • Chester Parsons (Jr.} Born in 1820. Sarah’s parents, Chester and Deborah appear to have been married in 1824. As such, it is unclear if Chester Jr. (and Sarah Jane) were children of Chester and Deborah, half-siblings to Mary Electa, or were related in some other way. Further research is needed to understand these relationships.
  • Sarah Jane – Born in 1822. [See Above]
  • Lucinda – Born 1825.
  • James – another brother, James, was born and died in 1826.

And at least four other younger siblings including:

  • Alfred David – Born September 1830
  • Harriet Eliza – Born 16 February 1832
  • E. W. – Born c. 1833
  • Melissa – Born 30 June 1843

The 10-year gap between E.W. and Melissa suggests the possibility of additional children conceived between 1834 and 1840, possibly three.

We do know that Mary Electa’s father, Chester, purchased 160 acres in Saline Township in 1834, so it appears that she grew up as a farm girl in a pioneer setting. The 1840 Census appears to show that her father, Chester, was living in Seline with a child of Mary Electa’s age. It was probably a close family with Grandfather Maben living with them in 1840.


In any event, Mary’s childhood was short lived. She married William M. Sanford on 29 October 1845 at the age of 17 in Washtenaw County Michigan by William Hurley, a Minister of the Gospel.


  • Their first child, Marion, came quickly, sometime within 16 months of their marriage.
  • Their second child, whose name is unknown, was born in April 1850; however, he or she does not show up in the 1860 census and is believed to have died.
  • Their third child, Elva, was born in 1852 or 1853.
  • Almon C. was born October 1855, married, had several children, and died in 1922.
  • William A (aka Willie) was born in 1858 or 1859; he married Victoria Waller.
  • George Poindexter Sanford was born 7 Oct 1865 in Saline. He married Etta J. Miller in 1896, had children, and died in 1932.
  • Finally, it appears that there was one more child of William M and Mary Electa Sanford who died before 1881.  I am not sure where that child fits in the scheme of things.


Mary kept house during the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses and does not appear to have had a job outside the home.

In 1885 the William and Mary located to Wells, North Dakota along with two of their sons, Almon and George.


Marker - Mary E. (Parsons) Sanford
Marker – Mary E. (Parsons) Sanford

Mary died on 18 June 1888 and was buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cathay, Wells County, North Dakota on Row 8.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Research the life of Mary Electa Parsons Sanford further.
  • Follow-up by researching lives of Mary Electa’s other children.
  • Follow-up by researching lives of Mary Electa’s sibling.




  1. Family Search: 1840 Census – Chester Parsons – Saline Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 141;
  2. Family Search: 1850 Census; William Sanford – Michigan, Washtenaw, Seline, Sheet 737, Line 41 & Following sheet;
  3. Family Search: 1860 Census; William Sanford – Indiana, Dearborn, Aurora Center, Image 424;
  4. Family Search: 1870 Census; William Sanford – Michigan, Washtenaw County, Saline, Page 17, Line 22;
  5. Family Search: 1880 Census; William Sanford – Michigan, Washtenaw, Saline; ED 237, Page 22 B, Line 16;
  6. North Dakota State University: 1885 Census Index – Dakota Territory; Wm Sanford – Page 35W-005;
  7. Find a Grave: Mary E Sanford – Memorial# 142980426;
  8. Google Books: History of Washtenaw County, Michigan by Pioneer Society of Washtenaw County (Mich.); William Sanford – Pages 1408 and 1409;
  9. Blog: 1840 Census and Chester Parsons:
  10. Family Search: Michigan, County Marriages, 1820-1940 – William Sanford – Mary Parsons.



1840 Census and Chester Parsons

Census Sunday

The 1840 census often exasperates genealogists.  I find the information presented to be challenging and able to provide new questions as well as details.

I was getting to know my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Electa Parsons. In 1840 Mary Electa was 13 years old and living with her family in Saline, Michigan.  Of course, the 1840 Census only lists heads of households, so seeing Mary in the census is impossible. What I like to do is that the census record and determine who all of the individuals are that are listed suggested in the census.

Screen shot of 1840 Census
Crop of 1840 Census, Saline Township, PG 141

In the case of Mary Electa’s father, Chester Parsons the details, transcribed are:
Chester Parsons | – 1 –  1 – – 1 1 – – – – – // – 2 2 – 1 1

Then using my other records and sources I try to explain each of the individuals listed.  In this  case they are:


  • 1 – 5 to under 10           Presumed to be Alfred (age 10)
  • 1 – 15 to under 20         Unknown
  • 1 – 40 to 50                    Presumed to be Chester Parsons (Age 41)
  • 1 – 50 to 60                    Unknown – Possibly brother of Chester or Deborah but most likely Deborah’s father Robert Maben (Age 59).


  • 2 – 5 & under 10            Presumed to be Harriet (age 8) and unknown.
  • 2 – 10 & under 15          Presumed to be Lucinda (age 15) and Mary Electa (age 12)
  • 1 – 20 to 30                    Probably Sarah Jane – Inconsistent Age.
  • 1 – 30 to 40                    Presumed to be Deborah Buel Maben Parsons

I am quite sure that Chester and his wife Deborah Buel Maben have one child that died in 1881. That individual could be the unknown male 15 to 20 or could be the female age 5 to under 10. That means there is another child living in the family that is completely unknown. All of the other children known to Chester and Deborah are accounted for.

Chester and Deborah were married in 1824, if they had a child in 1825 that child would have been 15 in 1840 and is a likely candidate to be the first unknown male. Likewise, the second unknown girls between 5 and 10 is a likely child. As such, I’m adding two tentative children of Chester and Deborah:

Unknown Parsons – Male – born 1819-1825. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Unknown Parsons – Female – Born 1829-1835. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.
I will also update my Unknown Parsons, who died 1881, to suggest it could be one of the above two or an entirely different child.

Finally, there is an unidentified male listed, age 50 to 60. Chester’s father was dead before 1840, however, Deborah’s father, Robert Maben, was still living. Her father would have been 59 in 1840. Additionally, Robert died in 1843 in Saline.  He does not show as the head of a household in Saline during the 1840 Census.  As such, I postulate that Robert Maben was living with his daughter, her husband, and her children.  Do I know this to be true?  No, but I think it is a strong likelihood. As such I’ll add it as a tentative fact until I see facts suggesting otherwise.

Robert Maben – Residence: 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan (Probable) – Probably Living with daughter Deborah and son-in-law Chester Parsons.

Taking an 1840 census, applying all know relationships to the census and then attempting to reconcile any unknowns can lead to new insight into the family and family relationships.






Source: Family Search; 1840 Census; Chester Parsons – Saline Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 141;


Ancestor Biography – Daniel Whitten (1859-1950)

Whitten-Bickford-2016 Project
#8 – Whitten Line
By Don Taylor

It is often best and usually easiest to look at a person’s life backwards.  That is to begin with their death records then follow them through all of the census records and finish with their birth record. Each record can build upon the next to provide a view of the life of the individual.

Marker of Daniel Whitten
Marker – Daniel Whitten
Photo by “Airborne Steve”
via Find a Grave #172317650

Daniel Whitten was buried with his wife, Martha Angelina Libby at Highland Grove Cemetery at North Shapleigh, York County, Maine in 1950.[1]

In 1942, Daniel was living in Kennebunk, Maine when he filed a delayed birth certificate for his son, Herbert Winfield Whitten. The certificate showed Herbert was too old (58) to be drafted.[2]

Then we find Daniel in the census records.

  • 1940 – Age 80, widower, Kennebunk, ME.[3]
  • 1935 – Kennebunk, ME – Same House as 1940.[4]
  • 1930 – Age 70, with wife (Martha), Kennebunk, Maine.[5]
  • 1920 – Age 60, with wife (Martha), Kennebunk, Maine.[6]
  • 1910 – Age 50, with wife (Martha), Kennebunkport, Maine.[7]
  • 1900 – Age 41, with wife (Angie M), Shapleigh, Maine.[8] [Martha Angelina][9]
  • 1890 – (The 1890 Census was lost.)
  • 1883 – Age 24, Living in Limerick, Maine when his son Herbert was born.[10]
  • 1882 – 1900 Census says they were married for 18 years; the 1910 Census indicates they had been married for 28 years.

Here is where things get sketchy.  I can’t find Daniel in the 1880 census. Try as I might, I’m just not finding him.

I think I’ve found him in the 1870 Census.[11] If so, he is a 10 year old, attending school, and living with an extended group of Whittens. Unfortunately, the 1870 Census doesn’t indicate relationships between people in the household.

Household            Gender        Age   Birthplace

Jane Whitten                 F       83      Maine, – Keeping House
Hiram L Whitten          M      39      Maine, – Laborer
Sarah Whittn                 F       28      Maine, – Without Occupation
Lizzie A Whitten            F       17      Maine, – Works in Woolen Mill
Hiram A Whitten          M      14      Maine, – Works in Woolen Mill
Charles F Whitten         M      12      Maine, – Works in Woolen Mill
Daniel Whitten          M     10    Maine, – Attending School
Susan E Whitten            F       9       Maine, – Attending School
George M Whitten         M      6       Maine, – Attending School

Clearly, Daniel cannot be the son of the 83-year-old Jane.  Also, although the 28-year-old Sarah could be his mother, the 17-year-old Lizzie could not be the daughter of Sarah. The bottom line is that the 1870 census, by itself, begs more questions than provides answers.

The 1860 Census appears to clear up some of the questions.[12]

Household            Gender        Age   Birthplace

Hiram Whitten              M      29      Me – Day Laborer, Personal Property worth $50.00
Julia A Whitten              F       24      Me
Elizabeth A Whitten      F       7       Me – Attended School
Hiram A Whitten           M      5       Me – Attended School
Charles F Whitten          M      3       Me
Daniel Whitten               M      1       Me

It appears that Hiram is the head of the household and has a wife, Julia, and four children including Daniel. It appears to be a pretty typical family unit.

The problem with this assessment is that the Daniel Whitten post marriage is a clear family being followed for fifty plus years. The Daniel Whitten family of 1870 and before is likewise clear.  However, the linkage of two Daniel Whittens is dubious at best. The only thing that links the two families is the name Daniel Whitten, the birth date/year and place of Daniel (Maine), and the birth location of Daniel’s parents (Maine). Not quite enough to make me comfortable that I have followed Daniel throughout his life and haven’t possibly crossed Daniels somehow. I definitely need to do more research to shore up my assertation that the Daniel Whitten of Dover, NH in the 1860s and 1870s is the same Daniel Whitten of Limerick, Shapleigh, Kennebunkport, and Kennebunk in later years.

List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: Herbert Winfield Whitten
  • 1st Great: Daniel Winfield Whitten
  • 2nd Great: Hiram L Whitten?

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Find Daniel Whitten in 1880 Census.
  • Find Daniel in a birth, marriage, or military record (Fold 3 might be a help with that) which would show relationships.
  • Follow Hiram Whitten, his wife, and children after 1870.




[1] Family Search: Maine, Faylene Hutton Cemetery Collection, ca. 1780-1990; Daniel W Whitten;

[2] Family Search: Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921 –  Herbert Winfield Whitten, 1883

[3] Family Search: 1940 Census; Daniel W Whitten – Kennebunk Town, York County, Maine;

[4] Ibid.

[5] Family Search: 1930 Census; Daniel W. Whitten – Kennebunk, York, Maine; ED 16-22 – Sheet 14B;

[6] Family Search: 1920 Census; Daniel W Whitten – Kennebunk, York, Maine;

[7] Family Search: 1910 Census; Daniel W Whitney [Whitten] Kennebunkport, York County, Maine; ED 245, Sheet 10A;

[8] Family Search: 1900 Census; Danel [Daniel] W. Whitten – Shapleigh Town, York County, Maine;

[9] Family Search: 1900 Census; Danel [Daniel] W. Whitten – Shapleigh Town, York County, Maine;

[10] Family Search: Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921 –  Herbert Winfield Whitten, 1883;

[11] Family Search: 1870 Census; Jane Whitten – Dover (Ward 4), Strafford, New Hampshire;

[12] Family Search: 1860 Census; Hiram Whitten – Newfield, York, Maine – Page: 71 – Household ID: 559;

Arthur Durwood Brown – Born 1869

Photo Crop of Arthur Durwood Brown
Arthur Durwood Brown

I saw that my Great-Grandfather’s, Arthur Durwood Brown, birthday was coming up. Then I realized that I have a quite a range of birth years for him. I know that markers are often wrong about birth years, but they seem so right, they are cast in stone after all. When I encounter inconsistencies, I often find the best course of action is to do a table and look closely at all of the sources I have which relate and analyze how they fit in.

From various documents, I have birth years for him of 1863, 1866, 1868, 1869, and 1870. Below is a table of documents with the year implied and various notes.

Year Document Notes
1869 1870 Census [i]  – indicates he is 7/12 and born in December. Closest record to the event and proof birth year cannot be 1870.
1869 1880 Census [ii]– Indicates he is 10 years old 2nd closest record to the event.
1870 1900 Census [iii] – Birthdate Age 29, Born Dec 1870 Can’t be due to 1870 census.
1866 1910 Census [iv]– Age 43 Aged 14 years between Censuses.
1863 1920 Census [v]– Age 56 Aged 13 years.
1868 1928 Grave marker [vi]
1868 2001 Letter from family minister Les Crider [vii] Church Records.
1866 Info about the family from Victoria Brown Quelland.[viii]
1869 1928 – Death Certificate [ix] Wife Mary was the informant.

As far as census records are concerned, I typically accept the 1900 Census as the most likely correct.  It is the only census which routinely identifies the month and year of a person’s birth as well as the individual’s age.  In this case, the 1900 Census is in direct conflict with the 1870 Census.  If Arthur were born in December of 1870, he couldn’t have been enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1870.

The 1910 and 1920 censuses appear just to be wrong.  No clear reason for the error. I have no conjecture as to why Arthur aged 27 years during the 20 years between 1900 and 1920.

I might have thought that Arthur’s daughter, Victoria Brown Quelland, would have gotten his age correct, however, she was incorrect about her mother’s birthdate as well. (See: Mary Elizabeth Manning [Brown] (1878-1983)). In both cases, she indicated her parents as being older than they actually were.

Marker - Arthur Durwood Brown
Marker – Arthur Durwood Brown

The 1868 birthdate on the grave marker would seem likely, except that his death certificate, done at the same time, indicates 1869 and the informant of his death certificate was his wife Mary, who should know the date that Arthur thought his birth was.

All the records that indicate a month or day are consistent with his being born on December 5th. I believe his birth year to be 1869 as indicated by the 1870 and 1880 Censuses and his death certificate and not 1868 as indicated by his grave marker and the family minister or any other year as identified by other sources.

—–Disclaimer —–
Birth, Marriage & Death Records


[i] 1870 Census; Henry Brown – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan, Page 17, Line 18, Family 115

[ii] 1880 Census; Henry Brown – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan, ED 237, Page 21, Line 50.

[iii] 1900 Census: Arthur Brown – Township 136, Range 29, Crow Wing County, Minnesota; ED 69, Sheet 2A.

[iv] 1910 Census; Arthur D Brown – Merkel Township, Kidder County, North Dakota – ED 225, Sheet 4A.

[v] 1920 Census; Arthur Brown – Sylvan Township 133, Range 30, Cass County, Minnesota

[vi] Find a Grave: Arthur Durwood Brown – Memorial 87334615

[vii] Don Taylor Personal File Archive: E-Mail Les Crider to Don Taylor – 2001-01-13

[viii] Don Taylor Personal File Archive: Genealogical Notes by Victoria Brown Quelland – aka Genealogy Information Card written by Victoria Brown Quelland.

[ix] Minnesota Historical Society: Minnesota, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death; #2215 – Arthur D. Brown.