January 22, 2012
Nancy (Justice) Wade:
Documenting a Marriage with a Pension Application—But Not the Way You Think!
Concept used: The FAN Club Principle
Revolutionary War pension applications are a rich mine for hidden gems.
We use pension files for many reasons—especially to identify wives and document marriages. They are critical sources for research in the South, where vital records were rarely kept before the twentieth century. They are critical for states where so many courthouse records have been destroyed. They are especially critical for South Carolina, where recorded marriages were not required before the twentieth century.
all our hopes when we approach these pension files, marital data often is not
there. The chance of disappointment is great even with applications filed by a
veteran’s widow. The optimistic genealogist then says: So what if the widow
has disappointed us? Direct evidence—a direct statement of fact—is not the only
tool in the researcher’s toolbox!
Published discussions of Nancy (Justice) Wade, who spent her last decades in the Pumpkin Town area of upper Pickens District, South Carolina, seriously disagree on essential details. Various descendants argue that
• She married Edward Wade in 1779 in Ninety Six District.1
• She married Edward or Edwin Wade before 1786 and appears in his household in 1790, Pendleton District.2
• She married Edward Wade, 1782, Ninety Six District.3
• She married Edward Wade in 1829.4
• She married David Wade of Pendleton District.5
None of these assertions are correct.
Casting a broad net, researchers had already searched all pension applications for males of Nancy’s alleged maiden name: Justice. In that process, they identified the father (John), mother (Mary), and two brothers (John Jr. and Simeon) of one Nancy Wade. The father and the sons had served together at Fort Rutledge (modern Oconee County) from 1776 to 1780. This Nancy and John Sr.’s widow provided affidavits for the younger John’s application:
25 October 1819, Pendleton District
Appeared “Mary Justice and Nancy Wade and made oath that they was there when the said Justices [John and Simeon] inlisted and continued with them in the garrison until they was discharged.”6 Both women appeared before Justice Billy Barton and both made their mark.
Nancy provided no personal data about herself or her husband. After all, those details were irrelevant to the reason the affidavit was filed: proving that the applicant did serve. Research on these Justice males in conventional Pendleton records gave reasonable assurance that Nancy was the daughter of John Sr. and likely Mary as well.
At this point, Justice researchers floundered. They had failed to identify Nancy’s husband, date her marriage, or determine where it occurred. They had failed for one reason: Their use of the pensions, as well as their study of local records, stopped too soon. They had not fulfilled the first criteria of the Genealogical Proof Standard: reasonably exhaustive research.
Finding Nancy’s marriage date and place
Thorough or “reasonably exhaustive” research does not mean “finding every record for the person of interest.” It does not mean casting a dragnet for everyone, everywhere, of the family name. It does mean research on the ancestor’s FAN Club —that is, all known Family members (by whatever surname), all known Associates, and all known Neighbors.
The primary targets at this point were the men with whom the Justices served at Fort Rutledge. No complete list of these men exists. During the process of compiling one, I identified all visible veterans in upper Pendleton District where Nancy lived in 1800. Then, at Fold3.com, I read the contents of every military and pension file they, or their widows, created.
One of those yielded pay dirt. Part of the hoped-for information that Nancy did not provide in her brother’s application was found in an affidavit for a friend:
18 April 1846
Pickens District, South Carolina
Nancy (her mark) Wade testifies that “when she was a young woman she knew Benjamin Barton who resided in Spartanburg District South Carolina where she herself resided[,] that he was then absent much of his time and said to be in the Revolutionary War . . . he was then a young man and afterwards married Dorcas Anderson she thinks not very many years after the war[,] as she herself was married in 1780 and knows that the said Benjamin Barton and Dorcas Anderson was married not very many years afterwards. . . .”7
One potential “catch” existed. A name does not make a person. Finding a Nancy Wade testifying over her mark in Pickens District, 1846, does not mean she was the same Nancy Wade who testified over her mark in Pendleton District in 1819.
Proof that the two were the same had to be built on that study of her FAN Club—members, associates, and neighbors. Alert readers will likely have spotted the fact that the justice of the peace used by one Nancy of 1819 in Pendleton bore the same surname as the widow for whom Nancy Wade testified in 1846. The Bartons of both years and both districts were one and the same family. Pendleton in 1826 was subdivided into two districts, renamed Anderson and Pickens. By correlating censuses with surviving local records—deeds, wills, and such—I could establish that the Justices, Bartons, and Nancy Wade of Pendleton 1819 were the same as the Justices, Bartons, and Nancy Wade of Pickens, 1846.
One hidden gem—six words buried in a lengthy file created by an associate six decades after the fact—shattered a brick wall that had long stymied Justice and Wade researchers. But it was not found through a “standard search,” and it could not provide proof, standing alone. Coupling that hidden gem with rigorous research built on the FAN Club Principle, I could build a case. Nancy Justice, daughter of the Revolutionary soldier John Justice Sr. of Ft. Rutledge, married 1780 to a man named Wade, apparently in Spartanburg.
The quest to identify Nancy’s husband, however, was far more complex. I’ll walk you through it in the next posting.
1. Billy Wayne Banks, "Edward Wade (b. 1760, d. date unknown)," The Banks, Wade, Brewer, Gumm, Goforth, Caudell of Ky., NC, VA (http://familytreemaker.genealogy.com/users/b/a/n/Billy-Banks/WEBSITE-0001/UHP-0128.html).
2. Michael Justice, "Nancy Justice," Ancestors of Michael Justice (http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op-GET&db=mjustice&id=I1661).
3. Jennifer Moomaw, "Selected Families and Individuals," Jorgensen, Gaffke, Zelewski, Fleming, Fraser, Justice, Turnmire, Deskins, Thacker and Related Families (http://www.geocities.ws/jennyejustice/pafg11.htm).
4. Tanna M. Toney-Ferris, "The Justice Family," The Justice Family Genealogy from N.C., Va., Wa. (http://www.genealogy.com/users/t/o/n/Tanna-M-Toney-CA/FILE/0002t3xt.txt).
5. James E. Woolley, A Collection of Upper South Carolina Genealogical and Family Records, vol. 1 (Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1998), 325, citing original Probate Box 98, 1029.
6. Amy Justice, widow's pension application W9092, for services of John Justice (fifer, Capt. Benj. Tutt's Independent Co.), digital images, fold3 (http://www.fold3.com), imaged from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives microfilm publication M804.
7. Dorcas Barton, widow's pension application W20683, for service of Benjamin Barton (pvt., Col. Benj. Roebuck's Regt.), digital images, fold3 (http://www.fold3.com), imaged from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files.