Being the descendant of someone famous is always a fun thing to find in your family history. April’s Ask Ancestry Anne column explores this issue with a question from one of our members.
Dear Ancestry Anne,
My grandmother’s family Bible shows that Mary E. Dawes died January 24, 1906. Knowing she lived in Pittsburgh, PA, I did a Google search and found the Pittsburg[h] Press death notice listed on January 25, 1906, page 6 column 1:
The accuracy is suspect because I cannot find any city in Virginia (or West Virginia which was part of Virginia) by the name of Westchester. Another oddity is that she had a sister named Mrs. C. J. Dawes. This would mean that her sister married a Dawes. Or is it possibly an error and it is really her sister-in-law?
I also find that League might have been spelled Legg, which is how it’s spelled in the 1850 and 1860 censuses.
My problem is finding the ancestors of Mary Dawes to prove the direct relationship from me to Thomas Stone.
Let’s look at whether Mary is really the great-granddaughter of Thomas Stone.
So who were Mary’s parents?
According to her obituary, Mary was probably born around 1836 in Virginia. She moved to Fayette County, presumably Pennsylvania, when she was about 14. This should place her in Fayette County in 1850.
The 1850 census lists only one Legg (League) family in Fayette County: the family of James Legg, which includes a Mary who is the correct age and was born in Virginia.
This is one delightful census record. The enumerator decided to write down the counties for people born in Virginia. So we know that:
This means that Mary was around 3 or 4 when the family moved to Fayette County, not 14. But dates and ages can change as they get handed down as family lore.
James and Ellender Legg (League) are strong candidates to be Mary’s parents.
Is Mary E. (League) Dawes the great-granddaughter of Thomas Stone?
If James Legg (League) is Mary’s father, he was most likely born between 1801 and 1810 in Maryland. Ellender, if she is Mary’s mother, was also likely born between 1801 and 1810 in Brook County, Virginia.
Thomas Stone had three children, all born in Maryland, according to the Wikipedia:
- Margaret (1771 – 1809)
- Mildred (1773 – 1837)
- Fredrik (1774 – 1793)
Either James or Ellender must have been Thomas Stone’s grandchild if Mary was his great-granddaughter. Neither could have been Fredrik’s child, since he died in 1793. I have not found a well-documented source for the spouses and children of Margaret or Mildred, though it is commonly stated in public trees that Mildred married Travers Daniels and that Margaret was the second wife of John Moncure Daniel, both of Stafford County, Virginia.
The Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, a lineage society, has more information in an article about Thomas Stone.
They also have an Applying for Membership page that discusses multiple sources documenting descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. It’s likely one of these sources would be able to tell you who Thomas Stone’s grandchildren were and whether James or Ellender was one of them.
Jim also wonders if C J Dawes could possibly be Mary’s sister. Or is it more likely that she is a sister-in-law? I address that particular question on our new blog Ancestry Reference Desk in the Case Study: Sister or Sister-in-law?
About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.