Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nancy Whitaker Horne

I notice that my posts are very male heavy, so today will redress the balance a little bit.  Nancy Whitaker (spelled many creative ways) was born about 1806 in South Carolina.  Nothing is known so far about her parentage or her early life before her marriage to Nathan Horn on 21 July 1821, in Wilkinson County, GA.    Having married so young, she was still fairly young when left a widow in 1840, with 7 or 8 children.  Of those children, Nancy (possibly a stepdaughter) and Sarah were already married.   The 1840 census gives the possibility of two sons older than Columbus, but if so they have disappeared from the records by the 1850 census.   There were 5 children still at home at that time.  Nancy's level of education is unknown, but she was able to at least sign her name on documents, rather than leave her mark. 

On Nathan's death, Nancy was made temporary administrator of the estate, and provided an inventory of the property on 16 December 1840.  Shortly thereafter, William D. Melton was appointed as the permanent administrator and he returned a valuation of the goods in January 1841, giving a total value of $509.75.  This did not include any of the property but did include promissory notes for money owed Nathan from Martin Hill, Gilford Grant, John Jermony, Sherod Horne, and George F. Mathews.  Most of the notes had been due in 1838-1839, possibly a further indicator of the troubled financial times.   An estate sale was held in 1841, netting $105.18.  At this sale, Nancy purchased a walnut writing desk, a shovel and tongs, a pot rack and coffee mill, a lot of jars, jugs and bottles, 2 barrels and 1 bell (pail?), a saddle and bridle, 3 raw hides, 15 head of hogs and 2 yearlings.  The other purchasers were William D. Melton, Uriah Melton, B. Stovall, S. Rutherford, G. Grant, E. Mathews and I (or J) Davis.

There is one curious circumstance of Nancy's life after Nathan died.   He died shortly after the panic of 1837 and the subsequent bank collapse and consequently, had significant debts. Tax records from 1840 show him defaulting on the taxes for 488 acres in district 7, and newspaper reports indicate that 202 acres were seized to cover taxes.    Court records as the estate was probated indicate that his land was to be sold to pay his debts, with the specific plots given.  In fact, probate records show payment for someone to go and sell the land in Cherokee county.

Nancy is not mentioned in the 1840's tax records, either paying or defaulting.  In 1851, she is shown paying taxes on 100 Acres in Crawford County, Section 73, district 2.   In 1856, however, she is paying taxes on 304 acres in Crawford County, as well as land in Union, Cobb, Coweta, Cherokee and Walker counties.  Comparison of the plot designators indicate that all of these (except for the land in Crawford and Coweta Counties) are plots allegedly owned by Nathan and sold after his death.  This is not all the land he had, but all this land originally belonged to him.   In 1857, she has apparently gotten rid of some of the land but she is still paying taxes on land in Union and Cherokee. She is also now paying tax on the property they originally had in Pulaski county as well.

The increase in property in Crawford County is not necessarily surprising.  If Nancy was successfully running the farm (and she had several boys to help with that) and times improved, she might well have managed to purchase land.  But how did she get the land back that had been "sold"?  And if it wasn't sold, why didn't she pay taxes (or get penalized for defaulting on taxes) between 1840 and 1856?  Next step is to check out the non-burned courthouses for the land records, to see if they show any clues for what was going on here.

Nancy disappears from the records after the 1860 census.  It is possible that she married, but considering her age, probably slightly more probable that she died. 

No comments:

Post a Comment