Thursday, March 6, 2014

William Eustace Trahern

About 15 years ago, a grandson of William Eustace Trahern sent me his autobiography. I went back to it several times over the last 15 years. One of the things I was trying to do was figure out who his maternal grandmother was. Yesterday I finally figured it out.

William's autobiography is now available in an ebook by his descendant Chris Cook for a nominal fee. You can find the book here. The Autobiography is included at the end of the book.

William Eustace Trahern was the son of William Trahern and Mariah B. Trahern. He was born in 1838 near Jackson, Mississippi. His father William Trahern, was the younger brother of my ancestor James Trahern. His mother was the daughter of Jesse Trahern and Harriet Walker. Jesse Trahern belongs to the "other" Trahern's who came from Anne Arundel County, Maryland to Loudoun County, Virginia at the close of the American Revolution. This family attended the Quaker church, which has helped a lot in tracing them.

Jesse's grandfather William Trahern (not a Quaker) is quite likely the same as the William Trahern who was executor of the will of Robert Trahern in 1760 in Calvert County, Maryland. Since I believe that Nehemiah is the heir to Robert mentioned in the index (need to see the files still), it is quite likely that Jesse Trahern is the second cousin of Mariah's husband William Trahern.  During the American Revolution and through 1830 we really only have 3 Trahern families to be concerned with, the Somerset family who spells (and likely pronounces the name in the correct Welsh way) Trahearne and the Trahern's of Loudoun and my family in Pittsylvania.

Jesse Trahern was dismissed from the Quakers in 1817. It appears he married his wife Harriet about 1818 as that is when their eldest child, Mariah B. Trahern was born. In 1820 we find Jesse and his wife Harriet in Loudoun County, Virginia. We also see an advertisement that same year that land was being sold to satisfy a debt of 300 dollars to Thornton Walker. By 1825 Jesse and his family are living in Natchez, Mississippi. A death notice for Harriet in November and a six month old son John W. Trahern in December of that year show that the family was residing there. That same year Jesse Trahern advertised a 2 over 2 home for sale he built himself.

Jesse Trahern remarried Sarah Timbury from England shortly after his wife's death. In 1829 Jesse, like his son and wife died of yellow fever. Until yesterday what I was left with for Jesse's family was entirely in what William Eustace Trahern had written. Estate records for Jesse Trahern found in Adams county, Mississippi records on show that both Mariah B. and Sarah Frances Trahern had for the guardian William H. Magruder. In 1827, Elvira H. Walker married William H. Magruder in Mississippi.

In his book, William Eustace recalls a visit to his mother's Aunt in Holmes county, Mississippi. He also names her four children, Eliza, Hattie, Sue and Willie. Census records show that Elvira Magruder was the mother of four children, Eliza, Harriet (Hattie), Susan and William H. Magruder Jr and lived in Holmes county. According to family researcher's for Elvira, she was born in Fairfax County, Virginia. William E. Trahern also mentioned his mother's Uncle, John W. Walker who invited her to live with him in Little Rock, Arkansas. Census records of 1850 and 1860 show only one John W. Walker old enough, and that is John Wormsley (Warmsley) Walker who was the builder of the Little Rock Arsenal. According to findagrave he was also born in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Much of what William wrote has been verified. There are a few errors. He states his father was born in Fauquier county, Virginia. We have no records of William Trahern or his father Nehemiah Trahern living there. They are only found in Queens Anne County, Maryland and Pittsylvania County, Virginia. William Eustace said his brother James Arthur Trahern was named after his father's only brother. We know that William was one of 5 sons, and had brother's named Samuel, John, James and Wesley.

William implies that his mother never received anything from her father Jesse's estate. Records show though she received her share, one third which amounted to about 273 dollars as a final payment to her husband, William Trahern in 1836. He also talks about the loss of his father's estate. He was in fact mistaken. Almost all the land patented to William Trahern (if not all) was actually listed for sale as part of Wesley Trahern's estate after William's death. William Trahern had been the executor for both Wesley and James Trahern. In the case of James Trahern he was listed as the only heir, but in Wesley's case, his 7 children were to get equal shares of his estate. At the time of Wesley's death they were from the ages of 2-16 years old. (Sadly it appears that they never did get their share. When the estate was finally settled in 1852, no one knew where his children were living.)

It is impossible to know if James Trahern had asked his brother to care for Peggy and her two children, James' sons. What we do know is that in 1830, William Trahern was given the commission as agent for the Choctaw Orphan's under the treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. In 1834 hearings show that not only was William Trahern involved in a speculative land company, but he had purchased Peggy's float along with Joseph Plummer and other's from F. E. Plummer. This purchase was overturned, and Peggy's son was able to obtain the funds from the sale of the land after her death. The lands of Wesley's orphans was similarly appropriated by the same company and the sale was overturned.

William Eustace Trahern mentions the visit of a cousin, William Trahern, who had indian blood and visited him in Holmes County. This was Wesley's second oldest son who had recently returned from the Choctaw Academy and who was living in Holmes County. It is probable he had come to inquire about his father's estate.  When he closes his story and says he is the last of the Trahern name when he dies, he is of course in error. Though there are only a handful who bear the Trahern name left, descendants of James, Wesley and John still bear the name.

William's story is a wonderful insight into his time during the Civil War. He does not mention that he was a portrait artist, and is listed in Who's Who of American Artists. A review of his portrait of General Butler was favorably publicized in the 1870's. What is remarkable is that he took the time to record his life. It is a small thing that so many of us wish our ancestor's and family had done.

For more on the Loudoun County Trahern's, please visit here.

No comments:

Post a Comment