What Happened to John Flanagan? – A Descendant’s Discoveries

My quest to resolve the mysteries surrounding my 4x great-grandfather.

John Flanagan was born between 1790 and 1799 (based on the 1840 census) in VA (probably Albemarle County, since his parents, James Winwright Flanagan and Phoebe Simpson, were residing there throughout most of the decade).  He married Ann M Saunders on 22 Jun 1820 in Fluvanna County VA.  She was also born about 1795 according to DAR records.

Until now, few details were known about John outside of his marriage to Ann, the 1840 census in St Francis County, Arkansas, and his known son William J. I have always wanted to find out what happened to John and have been searching out details about him for the past few years.  By delving into available records, I have discovered many more details beyond research that stopped in the 1960’s (as far as I can tell) with Dr. Edward Latane Flanagan and Kate Flanagan McGuire. He did not die in St Francis County; he died in Madison County, MS sometime after 1845 but before December 1853.

This study is presented as a series of events in chronological order. Most of these events are not known to most researchers, but because of what we know about John and his son William, along with 1) the emergence of a letter written in 1844 by John’s brother Simpson B Flanagan which I discovered in a Louisa County VA chancery case and 2) the compiled research papers prepared by Dr. Edward Latane Flanagan (1882-1965) which are housed at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture (formerly known as Virginia Historical Society), much new light can be shed on John.

The theory pieces together many moving parts, which should not be a surprise when researching a family that hasn’t been researched in depth for 60 years.


When:    22 Jun 1820
Where:  Fluvanna Co VA
What:     John Flanagan marries Ann M Saunders
Source:  “Fluvanna County, Virginia Marriage Bonds 1781-1860,” Genealogical Society of Utah, May 1938, page 29 [https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/viewer/194364/?offset=0#page=17&viewer=picture&o=&n=0&q=]


When:    4 Nov 1821
Where:  Fluvanna Co VA
What:     John and Ann’s son William J is born
Source:  Letter written by Henrietta (Flanagan) Moore (1849-1928) to her niece Kate (Flanagan) McGuire; postmark is illegible, but the letter is addressed to “Kate McGuire,” and Kate Flanagan married Herman McGuire in 1921. Henrietta died in 1928, so the letter was written some time in those spanning years. Henrietta was William James Flanagan’s daughter. She writes to Kate that he was born in Fluvanna Co VA.
Source:  Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/11485553/william-james-flanagan : accessed 08 June 2022), memorial page for William James Flanagan (4 Nov 1821–28 Aug 1907), Find a Grave Memorial ID 11485553, citing Pelahatchie Cemetery, Pelahatchie, Rankin County, Mississippi, USA ; Maintained by Becky Thames-Simmons (contributor 46954069)


When:    25 Feb 1822
Where:  Fluvanna Co VA  
What:     Jesse Saunders and wife Rebecca deed of gift to Ann Flanagan their daughter 392 1/3 acres which Rebecca inherited from her father John A Strange
Source:  Fluvanna Co VA Deed Book 8 pp 79-80, proved in open court by Jesse 25 Mar 1822 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C373-X9C3-R?i=67&cat=402676]


When:    25 Mar 1824
Where:  Virginia
What: John and Ann’s daughter Susan Rebecca is born
Source:  Flanagan, Edward Latane, 1882-1965, Papers, 1871-1965 Farris-Grundfest, call number Mss1 F6135 a F-G In: x86030910043; Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Richmond VA
Source: “Cemeteries of White County, Illinois (DAR), V. 03,” Daughters of the American Revolution Illinois society 1961-1963, page 90, entry for Hanmore, Susan R. Feb. 25, 1824-Mar. 25, 1906.

Susan Rebecca surfaced while researching ELF’s papers at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond.  The Family Group Sheet for John and Ann (Saunders) Flanagan contains a note stating that William’s granddaughter, Effie McDonald, said that her grandfather, William Flanagan, had two sisters – Susan and Maranda who lived in Enfield IL (White County) and in Chicago and that Susan married a Kuykendall.  My research shows that there was only one sister, Susan, who had a daughter Miranda Hall who married Perry Kuykendall.  All told, Susan was married 3 times:  1) Isaac Mitchell, probably in AR, 2) Amos Hall in White Co IL, and 3) James B Hanmore in Gallatin Co IL.  I have researched Susan extensively and will provide information about her in a separate research paper.  It seems Effie was confusing details about the two women.


When:    2 Sep 1824 and 2 Oct 1824
Where:  Fluvanna Co VA
What:     John and Ann sell 236 acres to William Johnson
Source:  Fluvanna Co Deed Book 8 pp 526-527, proved in open court by John and Ann 2 Oct 1824 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C373-X9ZL-M?i=285&cat=402676]


When:    After 2 Oct 1824 and before 20 Aug 1827
Where:  Virginia or Tennessee
What:     John’s wife Ann dies
Source:  No source exists for her death, but it is evidenced by the next several events


When: 1824-1827
What:     John marries Mary Yancey
Where: Probably Giles Co TN
Source:  This is evidenced by the court records below.


When:    20 Aug 1827
Where:  Giles Co TN
What:     Elizabeth L Yancey appears in the county court to petition for her dower as widow of John Yancey, deceased.  The petition names John’s heirs:

Elizabeth L Yancey, widow
Nancy Yancey
John Yancey
Lucy Yancey
Philip Yancey
James Yancey
Henry Yancey
Bartlett Yancey
Peggy Yancey, now Peggy Gooch
Polly Yancey, now Polly Flanagan
Thomas Yancey
Sally Yancey
Catharine Yancey

Source:   Giles Co TN County Court Minutes Book “Feb 1826 to Aug 1827” pp 436-437 https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9PS-K7G4?i=489&cat=195453


When:    1826/27
Where:  Tennessee    
What:     John Y Flanagan is born in TN
Source:  “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH5S-FXV : 19 December 2020), John Y Flannagan in household of Mary Ann Williams, Limestone, Alabama, United States; citing family , NARA microfilm publication (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Source:  “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHDP-C6P : 18 February 2021), John Y Flannagan, 1860.


When:    18 Feb 1829
Where:  Giles County TN
What:     John, James, Henry, Alfred, Bartlett, Thomas, and Nancy Yancey, all of Giles Co TN, deed 250 acres to John Flanagan
Source:  Giles Co TN Deed Book H pp 220-221, recorded 30 Jan 1830 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS5Q-N92Y-6?i=143&cat=203068]


When:    29 Aug 1829  
Where:  Giles County TN
What:     Elizabeth L Yancy sells to John Flanagan her dower lands upon which she now lives, 83 1/3 acres
Source:  Giles Co TN Deed Book H p 375, recorded 10 Sep 1830 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS5Q-N929-H?i=229&cat=203068]


When:    8 Sep 1829
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     Circuit Court – John Flanagan use of William Miles[sic] vs. George Wells
Source:   Limestone Co AL Circuit Court Minutes Book 1827-1832 #177, p 311 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3Q1-F9NS-T?i=325&cat=1003570]

Wells confesses that he owes John the sum of $16 and is ordered to pay within a month. There are only basic minutes for this entry; no details are written in the book. John’s brothers Samuel and Simpson both had sons named John and they were living in Limestone Co AL at this time, but neither of their sons was old enough to be the John Flanagan in this suit.


When:    1 Jun 1830
Where:  Giles Co TN
What:     US Federal Census, entry for John Flanagan
Source:  “United States Census, 1830,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHPM-T7V : 20 February 2021), Jno Flanagan, Giles, Tennessee, United States; citing 172, NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 176; FHL microfilm 24,534

Males
2 – <5 yrs (John Y and another male child)
1 – 5<10 yrs (William J)
1 – 30<40 yrs (John)
Females
1 – 5<10 yrs (Susan Rebecca)
1 – 30<40 yrs (Mary Yancey Flanagan)


When:    About 1831
Where:  Tennessee
What:     Thomas W Flanagan is born

Thomas was another son of John and Mary; he will be the subject of a separate study. That he was the son of John and Mary will be demonstrated in this study’s entries dated 1853.


When:    6 Mar 1833
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     Circuit Court – John Flanegan v Charles C Yancy – Jury trial. Jury finds for the plaintiff, so Yancy and Francis Lock his security are ordered to pay John $25.05.
Source:  Limestone Co AL Circuit Court minutes, 1833-1838, p 13 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C3Q1-F9VB-D?i=575&cat=1003570]


When:    1833
Where:  Giles County TN
What:     Circuit Court – Samuel Flanagan v. Archibald McAinish
Source:   Giles Co TN County Court Minutes Book Feb 1833-Nov 1833, p 202 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89PS-KG2W?i=379&cat=195453]

The details of this case are very vague, but according to the minutes Samuel (John’s brother) failed to prove his case, it was dismissed, and he appealed it to the circuit court.

The two interesting things about Samuel appearing in Giles County TN are 1) Samuel settled in Limestone County AL, and Limestone’s northern border shares Giles’s southern border, and 2) Archibald McAinish is a near neighbor to John Flanagan on the 1830 census


When:    10 Jul 1834
Where:  Giles County TN
What:     Hardin Creamer executes a deed of trust to John Flannagin
Source:  Giles Co TN Deed Book K pp 594-596 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C39N-VCYZ?i=271&cat=203068]


When:    25 Jan 1836
Where:  Giles County TN
What:     John Flanagan executes a deed of trust to Thomas Martin, with Archibald Wright as trustee, for the 250 acres noted in the above deeds but excepting the share belonging to his brother-in-law Philip Yancy.
Source:  Giles Co TN Deed Book L p 502-503 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C39N-V87M?i=614&cat=203068]

Because this deed references John’s brother-in-law Philip Yancy, it proves that it was John Flanagan who was married to “Polly Yancey, now Polly Flanagan” referred to in the 20 Aug 1827 petition for dower rights made by Elizabeth Yancey.

This trust deed is to secure 3 notes made by John to Thomas Martin totaling $1,110, all dated 25 Dec 1834 and due consecutively on 25 Dec 1835, 1836, and 1837. If John does not pay, then Wright will sell the land, pay Martin off, and give any extra proceeds to John.  If John pays the notes, then the deed is cancelled. I did not find evidence of if, or when, this deed of trust was cancelled by John paying the notes due Thomas Martin.  I also did not find instances of John later selling this land (implying he had paid the notes) nor record of Archibald Wright or Thomas Martin selling it.


When:    1838
Where:  St Francis County AR
What:     John Flanagan is taxed for 160 acres
Source:   St Francis Co AR Tax Lists 1832-1836, 1838 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSLG-SS27-F?i=785&cat=636459]

John does not appear on the 1836 list. 1837 is not available. The next available list is for 1843/44, and he does not appear on that list.


When:    10 Jan 1839 and 26 Jan 1839
Where:  Fluvanna County VA
What:     1. John Flanagan and Mary his wife of St Francis County AR sell to John H Timberlake the interest he has in the dower estate of his step-mother Mary Flanagan (second wife of James Winwright Flanagan).

                2. John Flanagan and Mary M his wife of St Francis County, AR sell to William Payne Jr of Fluvanna County VA 128 acres being the land he inherited from his father James.
Source:   Fluvanna Co VA Deed Book 12 p 38 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-C373-P73W-J?i=30&cat=402676]


When:    16 Feb 1839
Where:  Arkansas (probably St Francis Co)
What:     Mary Elizabeth Flanagan is born in AR.  She married Samuel Weeks in 1853 in Alcorn County, MS and moved to San Bernardino CA and later to Los Angeles. She died in 1924 in Los Angeles, and her death certificate names her parents as John Flanagan and Mary Yancy.  Their places of birth are given as SC and Unknown, respectively (provided by Lydia Simpson, her daughter), but in her census records she gives her father’s birthplace as VA and her mother’s as SC.
Source:  Death Certificate, Mary Weeks Stuart; California State Board of Health Local Registered No. 4129 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9SV-92BK?i=1479&cc=2001287]


When:    23 Apr 1839
Where:  Madison, St Francis Co AR
What: John and Ann’s daughter Susan Rebecca marries Isaac Mitchell. “At Madison, St. Francis county, on 23d ult., Isaac Mitchell, Esq., Clerk of that county, to Miss Flanagim, eldest daughter of Maj. John Flanagim, all of that place.”
Source:  Weekly Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, Arkansas, 8 May 1839, page 3 https://www.newspapers.com/clip/104571169/marriage-announcement-isaac-mitchell/?xid=637


When:    1840
Where:  Tishomingo Co MS
What:     Mary Yancey Flanagan has 2 brothers living in Tishomingo C MS – James and Bartlett
Source:   1840 US Federal Census, Mississippi, Tishomingo Co, p 3 lines 3 and 5 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9YBC-YKV?i=6&cc=1786457&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AXHTX-GH7]


When:    1840
Where:  Franks Twp, St Francis County AR
What:     US Federal Census, entry for John Flanagan
Source:   Year: 1840; Census Place: Franks, St Francis, Arkansas; Roll: 20; Page: 199; Family History Library Film: 0002474 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHBX-2RS?from=lynx1UIV8&treeref=K2XP-2XY]

Males
2 – <5 yrs
1 – 5<10 yrs (Thomas W Flanagan)
1 – 10<15 (John Y Flanagan)
1 – 15<20 (William J Flanagan)
4 – 20<30
1 – 40<50 (John)
Females
1 – 5<10 yrs (Mary Elizabeth Flanagan)
2 – 20<30
1 – 30<40 yrs (Mary Yancey Flanagan)
Slaves  4 males and 3 females
Employed in agriculture:  5
Employed in manufactures and trade:  1
Employed in Learned Professions and Engineers:  2

Since Ann was born about 1795, if she were still living, she would fall into the same age bracket as John:  40<50; therefore, since the eldest female (presumably John’s wife) is in the 30<40 age bracket, it presents further proof that Ann died and John has remarried, and Mary Yancey fits into the 30<40 age range.

This is a house full of people. I don’t believe all these individuals are children of John and Ann or Mary.  There are 2 individuals who are engaged in “Learned Professions and Engineers,” and I have serious doubts that John’s children received any sort of formal schooling outside of rural public schools. The males in the 20<30 bracket are probably individuals living at John’s household, and the 2 females in the 20<30 bracket are probably wives of 2 of those men.

John appears on the first line of the page of this census.  On the third line is Isaac Mitchell, the first husband of John’s daughter Susan Rebecca.  Isaac falls into the age bracket of 20<30, while the eldest female in the household is in the 15<30 age bracket, and this would fit John’s daughter Susan Rebecca.  In Isaac’s household there is also a male child under 5 years of age.  It is of interest to note that there are Isaac Mitchell’s in Giles Co TN as well, but they are still in Giles Co TN after this Isaac Mitchell has gone to Arkansas, but it should be noted that the 1850 census for him shows he was born in TN; the Susan Rebecca Flanagan analysis should be consulted for more details.


When:    1844
Where:  Virginia-Alabama-Mississippi
What:     In a Fluvanna County VA chancery suit, Benjamin J Flanagan brings a suit against his uncle Simpson B Flanagan to recover money from notes that he had given to Simpson to collect for him in Alabama.  Apparently what money Simpson was able to recover, he ended up spending due to financial hardship.  In the suit file (the complete chancery case file is at the Library of Virginia and available online), is a letter from Simpson to Benjamin dated 17 Mar 1844 at Limestone County AL. Simpson writes:

“…I received a letter from Brother John about four weeks past the first time we have heard of him in near three years. He has as usual been unfortunate. Lost four of his children & has been sick him self since last June. he wrote me he wanted to come to my house and stay the Summer for his helth. I shall look for him in a month he lives on the yazoo river in missippi..I am very Willing to Summer him if by so doing I can get him to stop the cracks of his cabbin with clay I have no doubt but you will do so tell John H I hope he will do so…”

Source:  Fluvanna Co VA Chancery case 1851-010, Benjamin C Flanagan vs S B Flanagan etc, Library of Virginia, Richmond Call No. 065-1851-010 [https://www.lva.virginia.gov/chancery/case_detail.asp?CFN=065-1851-010]

This passage about John is tragic.  He’s lost 4 children in the past 3 years and, very telling, Simpson says John has been “as usual unfortunate.”  We can only infer the unfortunate circumstances surrounding John based on what we know, but some items we can list from this letter and other sources are:

  • Four of his children died between 1841 and 1844.
  • He lost his wife Ann Saunders in VA or TN between 1824 and 1827.
  • Since I cannot locate record of further transactions regarding his 250 acres of Yancey land in Giles Co TN, he may have lost that property due to failure to pay the 3 notes to Thomas Martin.
  • According to ELF’s family group sheet for John Flanagan, his great-grandson Claiborne McDonald wrote to ELF in 1961 that, according to John’s son William J, John had purchased a farm in Lynchburg VA on the James River, but when dams were built on the river, it flooded his land and he lost the farm and was never able to recover financial recompense for the loss.  I have not been able to locate any evidence of this, but there is no reason to doubt it. When this incident occurred I cannot say, but probably sometime between 1824 and 1827…between leaving Fluvanna Co VA and moving to Giles Co TN.
  • His health was in such a poor state that he felt the need to travel to his brother in Limestone Co AL to live in the Spring of 1844 in hopes of recovering.
  • Lastly, Simpson’s last statement is a mystery, “I have no doubt but you will do so tell John H I hope he will do so.” Is he asking Benjamin to write John to encourage him to summer with Simpson? Who is John H? Did our John Flanagan have a middle initial “H”?

At the same time of the date of this letter, a chancery suit was being pursued in Louisa County VA over a land dispute among family members concerning property once owned by John Flanagan’s grandfather (James Flanagan d. 1752 in Louisa Co VA). In the suit, John and Benjamin and Benjamin’s siblings were suing John’s other siblings over division of James’s property. Benjamin and his siblings were not the same generation as John; they were the children of John’s deceased brother, James W Flanagan (d. 1842). Because of this suit, Simpson probably felt certain that Benjamin would be in touch with John and would encourage him to spend the summer with Simpson.


When:    1844 (circa)
Where:  Mississippi
What:     Daniel W Flanagan is born in Mississippi
Source:  1850 census, Limestone Co AL, p 36a [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6S2F-TV?i=73&cc=1401638&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMH5S-FX2]


When:    1845
Where:  Rankin County MS
What:     John Flagin appears on the Mississippi State Census of 1845.  In this household are 2 males and 4 females
Source:  1845 Mississippi State Census Returns, Rankin County, page 5 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PWR-F4?from=lynx1UIV8&treeref=K2XP-2XY&i=4]


When:    1845
Where:  Rankin County MS
What:     John Flanagan appears on the personal property tax list
Source:  Rankin Co MS Personal Property Tax Lists 1845 Box 3759 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9PGL-9RHX?from=lynx1UIV8&treeref=K2XP-2XY&i=8]

He is taxed for a clock valued at $20, 1 white poll tax, 4 slaves ages 6-59, 3 slaves under age 5.


When:    19 Jan 1846        
Where:  Rankin County, MS
What:     William J, son of John and Ann (Saunders) Flanagan, marries Julia A M Seymour (daughter of John Fletcher Seymour and Rachel Rebecca Abernathy)
Source:  Bible and Cemetery Records, Birmingham Genealogical Society, 1962, p. 39, Flanagan Family Bible [https://archive.org/details/biblecemeteryrec00birm/page/n81/mode/2up]


When:    1845 to 1 Jun 1848
Where:  Unknown
What:     Has Mary divorced John?  Or did he die and she remarry?
Source:  See 1848, 1853 event involving Daniel, Thomas, Mary and John Flanagan.


When:    Before 1 Jun 1848
Where:  Unknown and Giles Co TN, Limestone Co AL
What:     Mary has remarried to a Williams as evidenced by the 1850 census (see later entry) and the land grant shown below.
Source:  See next two entries.


When:    1 Jun 1848
Where:  Limestone Co AL and Giles Co TN
What:     Mary Ann Williams of Giles Co TN is granted land in Limestone Co AL:  NE1/4 SW1/4 S9 T1 R4W
Source: US Dept of the Interior Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records, Certificate 12830, Mary Anne Williams of Giles County Tennessee [https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=AL3630__.170&docClass=STA&sid=eoj4iztu.vfv#patentDetailsTabIndex=1]

This location is very close to the Tennessee border of Giles County TN.


When:    1 Jun 1850
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     Mary A Williams and 3 Flanagan children enumerated on the US Census
Source:  1850 census, Limestone Co AL, p 36a [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6S2F-TV?i=73&cc=1401638&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMH5S-FX2]

Mary Ann Williams, 42, b. NC
John Y Flannagan, 23, b. TN
Mary E Flannagan, 11, b. AR
Daniel W Flannagan, 6, b. MS


When: 1 Jun 1850
Where: Limestone Co AL
What: US Census Slave Schedule
Source:  1850 US Federal Census Slave Schedules, Limestone Co AL [https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8055/images/ALM432_20-0173?pId=234573]

Mary M Williams
1 Female age 38 (black)
1 Male age 15 (black)
1 Male age 11 (black)
1 Male age 8 (mulatto)
1 Male age 7 (black)
1 Female age 6 (black)
1 Male age 3 (mulatto)

While the middle initial “M” conflicts with the census (though it agrees with the Fluvanna Co VA deed record), the neighbors on the slave enumeration sequentially match those on the regular census (Jeremiah Jacobs, James Brundridge)


When:    Aft. 1 Jun 1850 but Bef. 26 Jun 1850              
Where:  Limestone Co AL (probably)
What:     George Williams is born
Source:  See entry for 28 Oct 1850


When:    26 Sep 1850
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     Mary A Williams has died.  Probate Court 26 Sep 1850
Source:   Limestone Co AL Probate Minutes Vol S p 24; Note: Not available on familysearch.org [https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8799/images/007652233_00860]

  1. William G Roberson (neighbor to Mary Ann Williams in 1850) granted letters of administration on the estate of Mary A Williams, late of Limestone Co, deceased.  “She has been dead for the space of more than three months and no one of the Heirs has applied for letters of administration.  Enters bond of $400, George H Roberson surety.”
  2. James Hodges, Ephraim Evans, William A Andrews, Preston Morris, and Asa Graham appointed to appraise Mary’s estate.
  3. Public sale of Mary’s personal property is ordered by the court.

When:    28 Oct 1850
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     Probate Court 28 Oct 1850
Source:   Limestone Co AL Probate Minutes Vol S p 35; Note: not available on familysearch.org [https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8799/images/007652233_00865]

  1. The appraisers of Mary’s estate returned their valuation.
  2. Roberson files his account of the sales of Mary’s estate.
  3. Roberson petitions the court to sell Mary’s real estate:

“It is ordered by the Court that Citation issue to the Heair of said decd requiring him to be and appear before the Judge of this Court at the Courthouse…2nd Monday in December Next and show cause if any he can why the Prayer of said Petitioner should not then be granted.  And it is further ordered that Alex S McKinney be appointed Guardian ad litem of George Williams Infant child of said deceased to defend him in this behalf.”


When:    9 Dec 1850
Where:  Limestone County AL
What:     Mary A Williams’ admr vs Heirs of Mary A Williams on a Petition to sell real estate
Source:   Limestone Co AL Probate Minutes Vol S p 52; Note: not available on familsearch.org [https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/8799/images/007652233_00874]

“This day came the petitioner and this cause coming on to be heard on the Petition answer and the Deposition filed in the cause, And it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that the Prayer of the petitioner should be granted.  It is ordered and decreed by the Court that William G Robinson expose to public sale administrator of the Estate of Mary A Williams deceased Expose to public sale according to Law the Real Estate in said Petition Mentioned to wit, the North East quarter of the South West quarter of Section Nine in Township one Range four Containing Thirty Nine and 94/100 [74/100?] acres, on a Credit of Twelve Months first giving at least forty days notice of the time and place of said Sale…and that he Make due Report thereof to this Court within the time limited by law.”

I would love to see this deposition!


When:    4 Aug 1851
Where:  Limestone County AL
What:     John Y Flanagan marries Rebecca F McMasters, marriage performed by S. B. Flannagan
Source:   Limestone Co AL Marriage Book 1832-1862 no. 2510 p 655 [https://t2a6aafcfaed629fe.starter1ua.preservica.com/uncategorized/IO_737e2551-df5c-4c89-822f-f45775b9a780/]

From the marriage record, it is not certain in what capacity Simpson B Flanagan was acting when he performed the marriage.  At one time he was a county commissioner and a justice of the peace.

Side note:  It may be that Rebecca F McMasters is Rebecca F Yancey who married Jonathan McMasters (this is not proven by any documentation; there are a couple website entries that state Rebecca Frances Yancey, daughter of Alfred Moore Yancey, married Jonathan McMasters, and there is no additional information about her on that page except that she died 6 Jul 1885 in New Orleans LA and that Jonathan died before 1850. There are two sources that I have combined for this information:  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Yancey-1645 and https://yanceyfamilygenealogy.org/alfred2.htm.  Neither cite sources, so the information should be used with caution.


When:    1 Mar 1852
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     John Y Flanagan enters a trust deed for $105 with Simpson B Flanagan as trustee and Presly Hobbs as creditor. The security is a slave boy named Ben, about 13 years of age. If John does not pay the amount due Hobbs, Simpson will sell Ben, pay Hobbs $105 and give any excess to John; if the sale of the slave does not satisfy the debt, Simpson agrees to pay the difference. In the margin, notation is made that Hobbs received payment on Jan 23, 1853.
Source:  Limestone Co AL Deed Book 8, p 574 [https://t2a6aafcfaed629fe.starter1ua.preservica.com/uncategorized/IO_16baa369-76b6-4560-9195-99bd2f463543/]

The due date given in the deed is the same date that the deed was made, so I think it’s an error and the due date should be Mar 1, 1853.

Is Ben the male slave enumerated under Mary M Williams in 1850 who is age 11? Probably.


When:    2 Nov 1853         
Where:  Tishomingo Co MS
What:     Mary Flannigan (daughter of John and Mary) marries Samuel Weeks
Source:  Tishomingo Co MS Marriage Bonds 1850-1853 (1852-1855) p 389 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-99KW-P9Q2?i=4&cat=244294]


When:    14 Dec 1853        
Where:  Tishomingo Co MS
What:     Thomas W Flanagan is granted guardianship of his brother Daniel W Flanagan

Tishomingo Co Probate Book 5 p 135-136, 14 Dec 1853 court:

Source:   Tishomingo Co Probate Book 5 p 135-136 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9QC-DP9N?i=73&cc=2036959&cat=255679]

The petition of Thomas W Flanngan shows that John Flanagan late of the county of Madison in said state deceased left one child to wit Daniel W Flanagan who is now a minor under the age of fourteen years That said minor is entitled as heir at law of the said John Flanagan deceased who died intestate to a small real and personal estate estimated at one hundred fifty dollars for said heirs share and your petitioner is advised that a legal guardian is necessary for the protection of the interest of said minor therein.

“Your petitioner would further represent that Mary M Flanagan is the mother and natural guardian of said minor has relinquished her right to letters of guardianship under the statute and your petition being one of the next of kin and therefore entitled under the statute to letters of guardianship of said minor

“Your petitioner moved by his natural love and affection and anxious to secure and protect all the rights of said minors at law in the distribution of said estate of said decedent Therefore prays that letters of administration…

Tishomingo Co Probate Book M, Dec 1853 term:

Source:   Tishomingo Co Probate Book M, Dec 1853 term [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9QC-8HYB?i=222&cc=2036959&cat=255679]

“Upon reading and filing the petition of T W Flanagan. It appearing to the satisfaction of the court that he is the brother of the said Daniel W. Flanagan, and that said minor is under the age of fourteen years, It is ordered that Letters of guardianship be granted to the said T W Flanagan of the person & estate of the said Daniel W., …”

If the value of John’s estate is equal to $150 per heir, and we consider the following children that we know of are living – William, Rebecca, John Y, Thomas W, Mary, Daniel – then the estate is estimated at $900.  If baby George is still living, he would not be an heir since John was not his father.

It is interesting that Thomas mentions Mary as Mary Flanagan.

I have been reviewing the Madison Co probate books page by page and have found nothing about John’s estate. Also, the index to the Tishomingo records indicate there is a further record in Book P (begins 1859/60), but that book is not available online.


When:    17 Feb 1855
Where:  Limestone County AL
What:     William G Robinson, Administrator of the Estate of Mary Ann Williams deceased sells to James Andrews for $160, Mary’s property described as NE1/4 SW1/4 S9 T1 R4W, 40 12/100 acres.
Source:  Limestone Co AL Deed Book 9 p 349-350 [https://t2a6aafcfaed629fe.starter1ua.preservica.com/uncategorized/IO_fce62984-e428-4a6d-9bb9-523b410c138b/]


When:    1855
Where:  Franklin Co AR
What:     Mary Williams is taxed for 160 acres of land
Source:  Franklin Co AR tax list, 1855 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSTT-ZSSF-S?i=231&cat=636459]

Her brother Bartlett Yancey is also taxed for land, under the list of non-resident owners.


When:    1 Sep 1856         
Where:  Franklin Co AR
What:     Mary Williams enters land grant in Franklin Co AR, T9 R28W, NW qtr of Section 35
Source:  US Dept of the Interior Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records, Certificate 12830, Mary Williams of Franklin County Arkansas [https://glorecords.blm.gov/details/patent/default.aspx?accession=AR1820__.351&docClass=STA&sid=ts0fyqj4.5lo#patentDetailsTabIndex=1]

I am working on tracking the disposal of this property, whether by deed, probate or some other means, such as tax sales, to see if any children were involved.


When:    26 Oct 1856         
Where:  Franklin Co AR
What:     Mary Williams age 47 marries William Northum age 64
Source:  Franklin Co AR Marriage Book AA p 152 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XH1Q-2DK?i=188&cc=1417439&cat=265160
Source:   Franklin Co AR Probate Packets 1835-1958 (there are 53 pages in this probate packet) [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89W3-RV8Y?i=220&wc=M7QX-2WG%3A353228001%2C353461501&cc=2061549]

The index to the marriage book says “Mary” while the actual record looks like “May.” William’s probate record shows that “Mary” is correct.


When:    1856 (circa)        
Where:  Arkansas
What:     Sarah E Weeks, daughter of Samuel Weeks and Mary E Flanagan is born
Source:  1860 US Census, San Bernardino City, San Bernardino Co CA p 20 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYBP-V2Y?i=19&cc=1473181&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMDKX-YT8]


When:    1860      
Where:  Sebastian County AR
What:     Bartlett Yancey (brother of Mary Yancey Flanagan) enumerated in Sebastian Co AR, which is immediately SW of Franklin Co, the two counties sharing a section of border
Source:  1860 US Census, Bates Twp, Sebastian Co AR, p 132 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYBF-9YT8?i=6&wc=7QJZ-P4Q%3A1589422280%2C1589422697%2C1589422864&cc=1473181]


When:    1860
Where:  Franklin Co AR
What:     Daniel Flanagan (age 15 b MS) appears in the household of Mary Northum (age 50 b NC) in Franklin Co AL. Mary owns land valued at $200 and personal property valued at $550; the slave schedule shows Daniel (not Mary) owning 3 slaves Female age 40, Male age 8, Male age 5.
Source:  1860 US Census, Mill Creek Twp, Franklin Co AR p 93 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYB2-9XN7?i=1&cc=1473181&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AM8WM-T53]


When:    1860
Where:  Limestone Co AL
What:     John Y Flanagan enumerated Limestone Co AL with wife Rebecca and a nine month old male child, name enumerated as “unknown.”
Source:  1860 US Census, District No. 2, Limestone Co AL, p 92 [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYBD-9M1B?i=91&cc=1473181&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMHDP-C6P]


When:    1861
Where:  Franklin Co AR
What:     William Northum dies, and Mary is administrator of his estate.
Source:  Franklin Co AR Probate Packets 1835-1958 (there are 53 pages in this probate packet) [https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89W3-RV8Y?i=220&wc=M7QX-2WG%3A353228001%2C353461501&cc=2061549]

In the probate case file, there is mention of their having separated, which explains why they aren’t living together in 1860.


When:    1863
Where:  Limestone Co AL and Chattanooga TN
What:     John Y Flanagan is conscripted (drafted) into the Confederate army 29 Aug 1863 at Limestone Co AL and captured at Chattanooga by the Union army 24 Oct 1863. He was taken to the POW camp at Louisville KY, and at that place he takes the oath of allegiance to the USA in November and is ordered to go north of the Ohio River until further orders. Another document concerning John says he took the oath of allegiance and deserted.
Source:  https://www.fold3.com/image/251574490 – there are 2 images for John Y Flanagan.
Source:  For the POW camp ledger record, see https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-95SN-Q3Q?i=199&wc=M8VN-9NL%3A203216001%2C203227301&cc=1916234
Source:  US Civil War Prisoner of War Records 1861-1865, ancestry.com [https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1124/images/M598_39-0112?pId=261681]


When:    18 Sep 1866
Where:  Franklin Co AR
What:     D W Flanagan age 21 marries Catherine McFerren age 19
Source:  Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957, familysearch.org, DGS 4401662, entry for D W Fanagan and Catherine McFerren Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XH1Q-KBS?cc=1417439&wc=QDM2-H65%3A1589733567


When: Jun 1869
Where: Franklin Co AR    
What: Bartlett Yancey (Mary Yancey Flanagan’s brother) dies per the 1870 mortality schedule
Source:  Ancestry.com – U.S., Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885


When: 1870
Where: Franklin Co AR
What: Daniel Flanagan is enumerated as “Robert” age 23 b. AR on the 1870 census for Franklin Co AR. In the household is wife Catherine age 23 b. AR and daughter Mary age 1. Also in the household is Mary Northan age 58 b. TN. Enumerated immediately below is the household of John Flanagan age 40 b. TN and wife Loucinda age 35 b. TN.
Source:   United States Census, 1870; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DRLQ-8P4?cc=1438024&wc=K2F7-VZ9%3A518654201%2C518793501%2C518724901

Is perhaps John Y Flanagan joining the family in Arkansas? Where has he been since deserting the army in 1863? He does not appear on the Mill Creek Twp AR tax lists in 1870 or surrounding years, and if he was a resident he would have at least been taxed for a poll. Was he just passing through? Where did he go?


Notes and Questions:

  1. Regarding Simpson’s 1844 letter in which he states John is living on the Yazoo River in MS, there are 7 counties through which the Yazoo flows:  Leflore, Holmes, Humphreys, Yazoo, Sharkey, Issaquena, Warren; these counties need to be searched.
  • Mary and John’s daughter Mary and her husband Samuel Weeks named a son “Simpson Brooks Weeks.”  Could this somehow tie in with her uncle, Simpson B Flanagan; he seems to have been quite kind to John and his family. And was Simpson B Flanagan’s middle name Brooks?
  • The 28 Oct 1850 probate record:  This heir mentioned in the singular must be the infant George Williams mentioned in the same court entry, whose guardian is Alexander McKinney, and who was probably not previously recorded in Mary’s estate records.  The suit brought by Robison implies multiple heirs (Mary A Williams admr vs. Heirs of Mary A Williams), so it is certain that other children have been recorded.
  • None of the deed indexes are available online, and almost none of the probate records for Limestone Co have been indexed, so page-by-page review is required. A probate book covering 1854-1856 that is key to this research is lost, per the Limestone Co AL Archives website. I have not finished paging through the probate records that still exist and hope to find additional information about Mary’s estate.
  • The inventory and sales records for Mary’s estate do not exist in the county court’s collection of records.  In fact, there are no record books at Limestone Co for inventories and sales of any kind, unless they are contained in an estate file – but estate files prior to 1865 do not exist, at least online. Limestone Co had a destructive courthouse fire in 1862, per familysearch.org wiki.
  • What happened to George Williams, infant of Mary and her unknown husband Williams?
  • Stating the obvious, the probate records for Mary Williams in Limestone County AL are problematic in that we also find Daniel W Flanagan living with Mary Northum (remember Mary Williams married William Northum in Franklin Co AR in 1856) in Franklin Co AR in 1860 and 1870. Did she die, or just desert? The records of land sale by William Robinson (estate administrator) matches the land patented by Mary Williams in 1848. But is this deceased Mary Williams the same Mary who was the mother of John Y, Mary E, Thomas W and Daniel W? Because the probate files don’t exist, it may be next to impossible to find out. I have always wondered how young Daniel would have ended up all the way out in Arkansas at such a young age, on his own. Finding the marriage record for William Northum and Mary Williams was an “aha” moment, but it doesn’t resolve the conflict with the probate records in Limestone County. Remember, none of the Limestone probate records name heirs except for one George Williams.
  • Thomas W Flanagan – I have explored possibilities for him. I find Thomas Flanagan who married Rebecca Jane Bell in Alcorn Co MS (neighboring county to Tishomingo) in 1854. He moves to Drew County, Arkansas, where he becomes deputy county clerk and opens a bookstore at Monticello AR (still Drew County), and during or after the Civil War, he moves to Memphis TN where he works in administrative positions and ultimately becomes the librarian for the Memphis Law Library. His only daughter, Fannie, died before 1880, so there are no descendants that DNA might have provided clues. I did check into the possibility that Fannie and married, but Thomas’s obituary states he was survived only by an adopted daughter, Blanche Donovan (who married John J Harrington).
  • I have not yet located death information about Mary Yancey Flanagan Northum.

What do you think?

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