Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on April 1, 2013 in Ask Ancestry Anne

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.

Thank you,

Jim Monaco

Dear Jim,

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?

Happy Searching!

Ancestry Anne


Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on 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. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


    • Trevor Thacker

      Michael, Except for the occasional banner ad on the Ancestry home page (which will always relate to Ancestry products, such as Family Tree Maker), you shouldn’t be seeing any pop-up adverts while on Ancestry. If you are, you may have adware or malware installed in your browser that is causing the issue. If you can locate and remove it, it will resolve the issue.

  1. Dale Trembley

    Michael Dean:

    Use the web browser Firefox and set it to ‘No Script’. You will then be given the option of what ‘pops’ up.

    I used to have great issues with adware, malware and viruses using Internet Explorer. Firefox is so much better to use and I have yet to have ANY issues at all.

    I’d be happy to assist you further if you have any questions.


    Dale Trembley

  2. When I saw the town name Westchester (it was suspect according to the Jim Monaco) I immediately thought of the town named WINCHESTER, VA. I was there only once while stationed in Virginia in 1950. So I wondered if the newspaper article was correct in the spelling. Just a guess.

  3. Deborah Gunsolus

    OK. When I started this journey, there was lots of information that seemed to make sence until I started reading what others wrote or commented on. My firt comment may have been inaccurate as I believed the “lore” that was written on my possible ancestors. Afterwhich, I was contacted and rebuttled by a distraught researcher. It made me look a little closer and there was really only hear-say. So, without valid documented information, and even then, I question everyting. And given time enough as well as expense, if it proves to be a waste of time, I will cease looking.

  4. ceacy hailey

    Couldn’t the town have been Winchester VA (since a Westchester could not be found)?

  5. Elaine G. Bennett

    I –Think– a Dawes family was important in Wisconsin…

    Hope if you google “Dawes WI” you might find a clue ?? and perhaps you would update

  6. Edward Wray Adams

    My great grandfather was James Henry Adams:he came to Ocala, Fl. in 1853 from Darlington township S.C. He brought what was left of his family with him a son John J Adams Martha Carter,who9 was married, and Annie his younger daughter, he took a job as overseer for Manley Farms located at what is now shady grove,just south of ocala. His wife had passed away in S.C. and is burried at Black Creek Baptist Church cemetery. I wouldlike to know more of my linage further back.

  7. Carolyn Osborn

    I live in Caroline County, VA and there is no Brooke County in Virginia. There is a Brooke County, West Virginia which is in the panhandle of WV. There is also an area of Stafford County, VA that is called Brook. It is just north of Fredericksburg. Could the Brook referred to be an area and not a county? Also, I agree that Winchester is probably the city referred to vs Westchester. Loudoun County is not that far from Winchester. You also do not mention where in Maryland James was born. Was it the area near the panhandle of WV or another area in MD? West Virginia became a state 6/20/1863 so Brooke VA would have been correct at the time Ellender was born. Then what is now Brooke WV would be a more logical place to look for records on Ellender. I am not sure what state the birth records for those born in VA that later became WV are in. WV has birth records at the county level and the state level. Often times, the county clerk has records the state office does not have.

  8. Lyn

    I see where it is listed a Rebecca Jane Marcum, and George Washington Hellard in the census.
    They are my third great grandparents, but I can find neither of their parents, or their
    children, or their great grand children to confirm my relation.
    I know for a fact that they were born in Kentucky.
    Rebecca being born in 1869 and George Hellard being born in 1868. What I know is that they had a daughter named Rebecca and she married an Orval (Orville Long) and they had a
    son named Alfred Long. (Of Indiana) Can you confirm this, any of it?
    Alfred Long is my grandfather
    My second problem on this Marcum/Hellard marriage is that Rebecca was listed as
    a Visa Hooper, and George Hillard
    (not H E L L A R D) with an E, .

    But the children matched up for the most part from Rebecca and George. (Even under the name of
    Visa Hooper [before I found Rebecca Marcum, I ran across the name Rebecca Visa Hooper) I hope you can help me sort this out. I do not know where the name Visa Hooper came from. Thanks in advance for your help. Orville (Orval, Orvel) lived in Indiana, and Rebecca lived in Ky. She came to Indiana and married Orval Long at one time

  9. Carolyn K. Sterns

    My community in WV was established in the State of Virginia, prior to 1863 and am aware of a number of stories of legal records, deeds, etc. having been sent to the state capitol (Richmond, Va.) prior to 1863, which in turn was burned during the Civil War. I think one might have more success in researching individual WV County records for these types of records.

  10. Herschel Darrow

    To: Mr. Monaco I have live in virginia for 20 yrs.The town of winchester is in the north on interstate#81 about ten miles before you go into Maryland.I had to look at the atlas to see what county that was listed they had it listed in westmoreland county that is not correct.I belive its in Frederick or clarke county. Regards Herschel

  11. Roberta Manzitto-Collings

    I have been able to trace my great-great grandfather who came from Chile to California for the Gold Rush. He was a miner until he was 65! He is listed on the 1850 census with a man who I suppose was his brother– same last name, and 8 years older. the 1850 census was vague. How do I research ancestors in Chile? It is not one of the countries listed in the updated version. Also, my great-grandfather, I just located–He left my great-grandmother and her 6 children around 1899. By 1900, grandma was listed as head of household on the census and his name was absent. He became a bigamist by marrying in “Porto Rico” and had his 1st of 7 children by his wife Esperanza Carrera in 1904 in the Dominican Republic. So my question is…. where do I go from here?

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