Monday, September 28, 2009

A Poignant Story Dying to Be Told

In my Webb research, I have confirming documentation as far back as my ggg-grandmother, Margaret Stewart Webb, born in 1826 in Morgan County, Tennessee. Margaret's mother, Nancy Stewart, is listed in the 1830 US Census for Tennessee as head of household with one son and one daughter. Nancy shows again in the 1840 census, also listed as HOH, with her name spelled "STUART," and living with a son, Hiram, and a daughter, Lindsey. While there are many family legends surrounding Margaret and her "Molly Brown" type strength living in perilous times of civil war, famine and disease, very little else has been found on her mother, Nancy, who may have been the among the strongest women on the planet. I'm starting to think that Nancy's is a poignant story that is dying to be told.
I received an email from a very nice woman in California who is also a descendant of my ggg-grandfather, Willis Webb, Margaret's husband. What she has learned through other "Webb cousins" is that Nancy arrived in Tennessee alone except for her son, Hiram, and was very likely pregant with Margaret during the voyage. She believes, but offers no documentation, that Nancy and son arrived in America through the port at Philadelphia. She does not know if Nancy embarked upon the ship across the Atlantic alone with her son or if she had a husband who either perished at sea or simply did not make the voyage at all. I do not have a name for a potential husband, but this very nice woman did tell me that Nancy's maiden name was Davidson. What would have been reasons a woman would migrate to lands unknown without a male chaperone? Was that done in the early 1800s? Could her husband have already been here, and could he have perished before Nancy and his son arrived? It's fun to conjecture all sorts of things such as this, but there is no shred of proof... only questions with no answers.
I have found a couple of Nancy Stewarts on ship manifest indexes published on, but the ages don't really fit. Is it possible that I have a preconceived notion as to what was common in the early 1800s? Is it possible that Nancy could have been in her forties when she migrated to America? I don't think this is really plausible since the 1840s Census lists yet another daughter. She would have been in her late fifties! I'm in my fifties, and I'm way too tired to be having a baby!
If anybody who may read this has any suggestions on how to narrow my search, please share. I would be very grateful, because I think this lady has a story that needs to be told. From what little I have on her, it shaping up to be quite poignant.

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