Neither Heirs nor Marriage Record: The Mysterious Wedlock of Georgia E. Colvin and Robert Franklin McNemer.

While looking for some data on another ancestor, I found myself diverted to the birth and death dates of another heir of George Hammett Colvin (1860-1928) who was, himself, a fourth-generation descendant of Benjamin Colvin, the Revolutionary soldier who, once discharged, moved his family to Missouri. The heir was George H. Colvin, and so far as the records revel, he had been from a large family (five brothers and one sister,) and who was, himself, the first of his line to migrate from Missouri to Texas where he married in 1887, Belle M. Pearson (1867-1954), in Mitchell County on February 20th. [1] With Belle, he fathered a son, Malin Pearson Colvin (Sr.,) (1888-1957) and a daughter, Georgia E. Colvin (1899-1993). [2]

As I looked further into this family group, Georgia, in particular, intrigued me because of both her own two marriages, and the two marriages of her first husband, Robert Franklin McNemer (1897-1951.) I was intrigued because her second marriage to Edwin Lacy Gunckle (1888-1980) whom she married in Tarrant County, Texas on July 22, 1966, is recorded but the first one to Robert McNemer is not.

This was particularly vexing because it appears this marriage was a common law one. Let’s look at the scant documented evidence which gives rise to this claim.

Georgia, born December 2, 1899, as already noted, was one of two children.  One finds her with her brother, Malin, in both the 1900 and the 1910 federal census of Ft. Worth with their parents. The first address is 1418 Presidio Street. In the 1910 census, both children, now ages twenty-one and eleven respectively, are still in their father’s house only now Malin is with his new wife, Ona W. Million, (1889-1944) whom George H. Colvin told enumerators was his “Daughter-in-Law.” They were newlyweds, the couple having wed less than six months earlier in Pettis County, Missouri on December 9, 1909.[3] The family had relocated to 416 West Presidio Street in the same town.

Like most men of his generation, Malin, when the call came, in 1918, registered for the WWI Draft. He was twenty-nine years old. Robert F. McNemer also registered for the draft, in Ft. Worth. He was a single male, age twenty-one, and listed his mother, “Mrs. P.H. McNemer” as his nearest relative.[4] Robert’s parents were Phillip Hamilton McNemer (1870-1933) and Ella Mae Baldridge (1875-1952).  There is no record of a marriage for Robert until 1930, when Georgia McNemer is listed as Robert’s “wife” in that year’s Ft. Worth City Directory.[5] Georgia McNemer appears again as Robert’s wife in the 1932 directory.[6] If the couple were not actually married, it appears they were cohabitating as such. Vexingly, The McNemer household cannot be found in either the 1920 or 1930 census records, upon which one might be able to deduce a marriage date – or at least a period when they began cohabitation as a wedded couple.

After this brief sliver of evidence showing the couple together, Georgia vanishes leaving little trace of her whereabouts. It would appear she and Robert parted company sometime before 1940 when Robert re-appears in the census re-married to his second “wife, “Lucille Ruby Daniels,” whom has gifted him with a step-daughter, Carlene Russell, from an apparent previous marriage.[7]  Curiously, no marriage record can be found for Robert F. McNemer and his 2nd wife, Lucile although she is listed as his wife not only in that 1940 census, but in three other published sources, the first two of which are local period newspapers.  In the November 9, 1934 edition of the Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light, for example, “Mrs. Robert F. McNemer,” is spotlighted as being part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s, “Mobilization for Humanity’s Needs” a charity  program for the poor wherein communities were encouraged to care for the destitute among them and to expected no help from the government.[8] Then, in the August 5, 1935 edition of the Denton Record-Chronicle, she was named as being selected as the “chief case worker” for Tarrant County’s new aid relief program.[9]  Apparently, Lucille’s previous do-goodism helped launch her career in bureaucracy. The third instance is her appearance in the 1947 Ft. Worth City Directory wherein she is listed as Robert F. McNemer’s “wife”.[10]

As for Georgia’s whereabouts, less is known of it until her second marriage on July 22, 1966, in Tarrant County, to Edwin Lucy Gunkle (1888-1980)[11]  She was a bride in her 60s when she re-married – this time with proper documents.[12] The groom was in his late 70s. One can find the two listed in the 1971 Ft. Worth city directory as husband and wife.[13] Georgia Colvin is also listed, with her maiden name, as his spouse on Edwin’s death certificate.[14] Edwin, like his bride, had been married previously, to a Nannette Simpson (1891-1963) who died three years before he married Georgia. He married Nannette in 1920, judging by his answers on the 1930 federal census wherein, at age forty, he told the enumerators he married 1st at age 30.[15]

Georgia E. Colvin died April 15, 1993,  in Tarrant County, Texas.[16] She is interred next to Edwin at the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Ft. Worth. Robert is buried there as well, in a separately marked plot. [17]


[1] Digitized copy of original, Mitchel County, Texas marriage registry, Volume 1 (1881-1910) pp 108 in “Texas County Marriage Records, 1835-1965” (image 81) Collection, website.

[2] “Malin” is likely a play on Belle’s mother’s maiden name: Georgia Mann. (1848-?) Georgia’s middle name is yet unknown.

[3] Digitized copy of original marriage license, December 28, 1909, “Missouri, Marriage Records, 1805-2002” Collection, website.

[4] Digitized copy of original, WWI Draft Registration Card, Malin Pearson Colvin, June 2, 1917, Ft. Worth, Texas, “U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” Collection, website.

[5] Digitized copy of original, 1930 City Directory, Ft. Worth, Texas, pp 628, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Collection, website.

[6] Digitized copy of original, 1932 City Directory, Ft. Worth, Texas, pp 527, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995” Collection, website.

[7] Digitized original of Robert F. McNemer household, 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, hh 5531, line 30, “1940 United States Federal Census,” Collection, Carlene McNemer is listed as his daughter. However, in Carlene’s obituary, published in the August 27, 2000 edition of  the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, her father’s name is given as “Carl Russell.” Likewise, on her grave marker in the Greenwood Memorial Park and Mausoleum, Ft. Worth, her name is given as “Carlene Russell Hendrickson”. Carlene m. Ralph Wise Hendrickson October 5, 1944. She died August 25, 2002.  When Carl Russell married her mother is unknown. No record of their marriage has yet been found. See Carlene Russell Hendrickson memorial image # 165545592, website.

[8] Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light, “Mrs. R.B. Malloy Named Chairman on Crusade on Relief,” November 9, 1934, pp 8, col. 7, website,

[9] Denton Record-Chronicle, “District Relief Office Functioning,” August 5, 1935, pp 1, col. 3, website, The article mentions the program had been scuttled the previous year due to lack of funds.

[10] Digitized copy of original, Ft. Worth City Directory, 1947, pp 741, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Collection, website.

[11] Digitized copy of original, Edwin Lacy Gunkle Death Certificate, “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” Collection, website.

[12] Edwin Lacy Gunkle – Georgia Colvin, 22 July, 1966, Tarrant County, Texas, Marriage Application Index, 1966, Texas Department of State Health Services website,

[13] Digitized copy of original, Ft. Worth City Directory, 1971, pp 416, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995” Collection, website.

[14] Digitized copy of original, Edwin Lacy Gunkle Death Certificate, “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” Collection, website.

[15] Digitized copy of original, Edwin L. Gunkle household, 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Ft. Worth, Tarrant County, Texas, household 2221, line 51, col. 15, “1930 United States Federal Census” Collection, website.

[16] Georgia Colvin Gunkle memorial # 129861206, website, Edits to the vital stats and an image request of the grave marker have been submitted to the memorialist by this researcher. The decedent’s death certificate is also being sought.

[17] Robert Franklin McNemer memorial # 40562305, website,

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From Your Humble Family Historian. “My Thanksgiving Gratitude Declaration” 2016.

rainbow-treeI’m grateful as a Colvin for our diversity as a family line which stretches back before our nation’s founding.

I’m grateful that we cannot claim a right to bigotry or prejudiced, because within our veins runs the blood of the Revolutionary soldier both foreign and domestic, the European indenture, the African slave, his master, the poor farmer, the teacher, the tradesman, the merchant, the doctor, and the city-dweller.

A Colvin of our line can never claim to be a Confederate nor a Yankee for our ancestors fought and died on both sides of that awful war; we can only be for peace. I am grateful for that, too.

We can never be against the immigrant, for our Colvin forefathers’ journeys across open seas brought us to these shores long ago. They and their heirs settled in New England, the south, the northwest, the east and west coasts,  and all parts in between. We can only hope they find the freedom they seek and deserve.

We can never be against love — whatever form it takes, for our Colvins and their heirs have dared to marry those in society of different races and creeds across the generations – even when society banned such things and made them felonies. We are their kith and kin. Love will always transcend and defeat hate. Our ancestors and their descendants have shown us that. We have continued this tradition.

We can never be against women, for many a Colvin wife has kept her family intact when the husband died or left, and never was a Colvin child pawned off to the poor house or the orphanage. Never.

We can never be against the working poor; we have had our struggles, too, yet we have laughed in the face of adversity. We welcome it; it strengthens us. And we have been charitable when others would not. We have known homelessness, despair, and suffering. We carry on, regardless. It is a tradition, not a burden. I am grateful for this.

We can never be against any religion; our spiritual beliefs are many — of many creeds. Yes, we have those from Muslim countries such as Syria among us. We cannot vainly cling to monotheism. I am grateful for this, too.

We can never be the righteous “other” — arrogant and condescending of our fellow Americans. We are their kindred spirit. We are the multi-colored patches and threads sewn into the tapestry of our nation. We are the many-hued Tree of Life. We are the living legacy and living proof of the everlasting strength of America’s diversity. We are its soul and history and our stories are its stories. And for this I am grateful.

I hope you are, too.

Peace and love, as always,



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Yet Too Few Clues: The Alleged Civil War Death of James M. Colvin

James M. Colvin d. 1863 Index record card

James M. Colvin IRC Source:

James M. Colvin (1838-1863) was the son of Madison Colvin mentioned in a previous post, who allegedly died in the Civil War. Unfortunately, little of his war record survives, and of the few scraps there are in the form of late-19th century index record cards, (IRCs) little of  what they offer is consistent with other know records regarding regiments, officers, locations,  or other records against which one can compare them to use as a metric of consistency in order to verify his war record. Often, when one finds IRCs for a soldier, they often contain data than can be cross-referenced against extant rosters of military histories and verified. In James’ case, that has not proven to be true. Nothing of what’s on his cards are consistent with known records.

For example, one IRC  says he enlisted March 26, 1862 In “Memphis” (Scotland County) Missouri under “Captain” John B. Clark Company A., 3rd Battalion infantry. But Clark was not a Captain of Company A; he was the  Lt. Colonel  over the entire battalion. And nowhere does one find among the rosters a  James Colvin — or any Colvin  — among any of the 3rd’s several companies.

By July of that year,  according to another IRC in the same series, James is now a corporal, in Company “E” of the 3rd, in Erwin’s Battalion.That would be Lt. Colonel Eugene Erwin who was promoted to Colonel of the 6th Missouri after his daring do at the battle of Corinth and went on to become something of  a war hero, according to National Park Service records.  Again, wrong company. And no Colvin’s in the 6th, either.

Why such inconsistency? That requires a little explaining.

IRCs, first of all, are not original records but rather derivatives  created in the early 1890s by the Federal War Department as a way to determine which individuals making a war pension application were entitled to one. Also, owing to the way in which they were created, they can lead to confusion by modern-day researchers. The clerks who created them made a separate card every time a soldier was found on an  original roster, muster roll, pay lsts, etc, and with spelling of surnames often found different on original Civil War records, clerks typically created a separate series for each “spelling” This explain why, in James’ case, there’s one card for a James N. Colvin, and others for James M. Colvin although they were the same person. This clerical habit also explains why modern day researchers sometimes overlook individuals — because of those misspelled names. Even Civil War paymasters and captains writing out muster and lists got names wrong, an error that would be continued by IRC clerks who sometimes further corrupted them three decades later. Thus, IRCs should always be verified against original regimental histories, muster lists, etc.,  rather than taken at face value. Like Federal Census records, errors abound.  The good news is: they offer valuable clues about an ancestor’s war experience and are always a welcome find.

Here an article from the January 8, 1893 edition of the New York Times introducing American to the IRCs which were considered a marvel of War Department bureaucratic efficiency at a time when cast-iron typewriters were only beginning to appear on the office scene.  The majority of the thousands of IRCs, however, are hand written — clear evidence that the fountain pen and the inkwell were still the method of writing choice in large scale clerical operations.

For now, I’ve put James aside as a “verification pending” case since little of his extant war record seems to jibe with what’s known about the Civil War officers and the regiments they commanded. No doubt, more intensive digging will reveal James’ true wartime experience.

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Madison Colvin (1799-1846): Five Sons, But Only One With Male Heirs.

Madison Colvin Polly Crigler marriage bond

Madison Colvin-Mary “Polly” Ann Crigler marriage bond, 1820. Source:

Madison Colvin belongs to the Culpeper County, Virginia branch of this study. There are several branches: The Ohio branch, the Fauquier County, Virginia branch, and the Kentucky branch. There’s also a Texas and Florida branch. The oldest, however, is the Culpeper branch which is closest to the tree’s Virginia roots. Madison is among the oldest of these founders, whose parents were Benjamin Colvin, (1759-1837) and Nancy P. Coleman (1771-1845) both of Culpeper County. However, the parents of Benjamin have not been conclusively shown, although much speculation exists among researchers.

Records reveal much about Madison.  He was, for example, the 2nd eldest son of Benjamin and Nancy whose heirs consisted of four sons and four daughters born between 1794 and 1816. Benjamin and Nancy were married in Culpeper, December 12, 1793.[1] Benjamin had served in the American Revolution having enlisted in 1781 in Culpeper and left service honorably in 1782. A more in-depth profile of Benjamin’s service is available from this earlier post.  Between 1816-1820, Benjamin took his bounty land compensation and moved his family to Boone County, Missouri settling there on a plot of land near the Missouri river. This is how Madison’s siblings got to Missouri. However, Madison himself doesn’t appear to have gone straight to Missouri with his family, judging by his marriage records and the birth records of some of his children – nine is all, four daughters and five sons.

Those records show Madison, aged twenty-three, married on November 21, 1820 in Madison County, Kentucky, eighteen-year-old, Mary “Polly” Ann Crigler, (1802-1846).[2] It was a curious marriage; Madison’s father, Benjamin and his soon-to-be father-in-law, John Crigler, paid the indemnity to the county clerk which all marriages required at the time. The records also reveal the new couple’s nine children and where they were born. The first five: Sarah “Sally” Ann Colvin (1822 -?); George C. Colvin (1823-1880); Christopher C. Colvin (1826-1875); Coleman Colvin (1829-1832), and Nancy Jane Colvin (1832-1861) were all born in Madison County, Kentucky. The remaining four children, however, were all born in Howard County, Missouri. The first of these last four was John G. Colvin born in 1836. This means, for reasons that are yet unclear, between 1832-1836, Madison Colvin migrated with his family to Missouri where most of his siblings had been living for some time and where most lived until death and where they are buried.

Aside from showing that Madison deviated from the family migratory route to Missouri, (a dalliance that lasted only until the early 1830s,) they also show another interesting pattern; of his four sons, only one was successful in producing the male heirs necessary to continue the Colvin line in his family group: Christopher C. Colvin. Christopher had four brothers: Coleman Colvin, a toddler who lived only to age three and died when Christopher was age five; George C. Colvin who had only two daughters; John G. Colvin, also likewise fathered only daughters – five in all, and James M. Colvin, the son who died in the Civil War at the age of 25, a bachelor.[3]

Had not Christopher C. Colvin fathered six heirs of his own – five boys and a girl, all living to old age, the Madison line would have died out in Missouri in the late-1880s with the death of John G. Colvin who died March 24, 1885 in Linn County, Missouri.[4] Christopher married Ann Elizabeth Amick (1836-1910) in Howard County, Missouri on October 9 1851.[5] They are buried in the Richland Cemetery, Glasgow, Howard County, Missouri. An image of his tombstone is available at


[1] Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940.

[2] Digitized original marriage bond, Madison Colvin to Polly Crigler,

[3] Digitized original index record cards, James M. Colvin, A newer post about James and his mysterious Civil War death is available here.

[4] Digitized original death registry listing, John G. Colvin,

[5] Digitized original marriage registry listing, Christopher Colvin to Elizabeth Amick, Howard County, Missouri,

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Three Lives Lost With Too Few Clues: The Strange Demise of Branson Colvin and Family

Branson Colvin, wife and daughter, death registry listing. Only the term

Branson Colvin, wife and daughter, death registry listing. Only the term “direct” is given for their sudden deaths. Click to enlarge. Source:

In 1871, in Guernsey County, Ohio, an unnamed tragedy struck the Branson Colvin household, wiping out its head, Branson Colvin (1802-1871), his wife, Mary Sarah (nee Alloway )(1799-1871) and their first born daughter, Sarah Ann Colvin (1825-1871) – all within the space of a few weeks. The medical record of the period show the trio died that year between June and August.[1] Branson’s wife, Mary Sarah Colvin,  age seventy-two, was the first to die on June 11th, followed by her first born, Sarah Ann Colvin, then aged  forty-five on August 12th,  followed by her father, age sixty-eight on August 28th.  Other than using the term “direct” to describe the deaths, the record is entirely silent regarding the cause.  More frustrating, perhaps, a review of period medical literature offers no context as to what such a term might mean when used in 19th century death registries.

The cause,  however, was both sudden and clearly unanticipated. Among the other records extant for review is Branson Colvin’s  Last Will and Testament, executed a year earlier in March of 1870.[2]  In it he names his several heirs, including  his wife, and his daughter, Sarah Ann Colvin. Clearly,  in so doing,  he fully expected they would survive him. To his wife, for example, he devised the bulk of his estate — including all the lands, buildings, livestock, and chattels. That estate would only go piecemeal to his other heirs  upon her death, and only then with the proviso that any outstanding debts were to be paid first.  Thus it strains credulity to imagine Branson would have  made such bequeths to beneficiaries he thought would not outlive him. The remainder of his heirs – three sons and two daughters , however,  did survive him. The eldest male, Zachary Taylor Colvin, (1849-1923) for example, went on to father seven children — five of whom were sons — who, in turn, continued their Colvin line with their progeny, many remaining in the region for several more generations.

Branson was the son of Charles B. Colvin, (1770-1840,) himself a son of  Charles Colvin, an itinerant Overseer originally of Culpeper County, Virginia,  and whose own familial heritage seems rooted in Virginia’s Piedmont.[3] Records show Branson was born in Stafford County, Virginia, a region where his ancestors had farmed for several generations. Whether he came to Ohio on his own, or with his father or family is currently unclear. What is clear is that by 1840, he was established enough to be  enumerated in that year’s federal census for Guernsey County. However, marriage records also make it clear he had likely settled in the area much earlier. In fact, nearly two decades earlier, he had married a twenty-five year old, Mary Sarah Alloway , in Jefferson County, Ohio on December 30, 1824.[4] She was a few years his senior.  Much later, in the 1850 federal census, he is listed as a farmer.[5] His death registry entry likewise lists his occupation this way.

Although the death registry does not give their causes of death, ongoing research may ultimately reveal the reason – whether by an outbreak of disease or some terrible accident – that lay behind the trio’s sudden demise.



[1]  Branson Colvin et all, entries, digitized original death registry, “Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001”  in Guernsey (County, Ohio) Death Records, 1867-1908 database. lines 123-125.

[2] Branson Colvin Last Will and Testament, Executed March 22,  1870, Wheeling,  Guernsey County,  Ohio, Will Bk Z: 338.

[3]  Charles B. Colvin was named both in the Last Will and Testament  of Charles Colvin as his son,  but also as one of two executors.  See: Charles Colvin Will, Pendleton County, Kentucky, Deed Book B (1803-1815):287.

[4] Branson Lee Colvin and Mary Sarah Alloway marriage registry listing, December 30, 1824, Jefferson County, (Ohio)  Court of Common Pleas, Marriage Book 3: 16.

[5] Branson L. Colvin household,  digitized original,  1850 U.S. federal census, Washington,  Tuscarawas County, Ohio, household 2517, lines 25-30.

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Image of Charles Colvin Cabin Found on 1997 Google Earth Satellite Image.

Though the resolution is less than ideal, the Charles Colvin cabin can be clearly discerned in this 1997 Satellite image. Elevation approx. 700 feet.  Source: Google Earth

Though the resolution is less than ideal, the Charles Colvin cabin can be clearly discerned in this 1997 Satellite image. Elevation approx. 700 feet. Click to enlarge. Source: Google Earth

Thanks to a research collaboration between James Carr, longtime Pendleton County, Kentucky resident, and The Colvin Study, the image of Charles Colvin’s cabin built in the late 1790s has been positively identified in older satellite images of land in Pendleton County, situated just a few miles south of Falmouth. Charles is belived to be the progenitor of a line of Colvins which today number several thousands and whose present-day descendants can be found in numerous states including Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, to name a few. Originally from Culpeper County, Virginia, Charles died in Pendleton County in 1810.[1]

Carr was a critical contributor to this latest development as he was able to provide not only a positive eyewitness account of the cabin’s location but was also personally acquainted with its last occupant, Charles “Charlie” Karl Ritter, who died in Harrison County, Kentucky in 1996. Explaining his friendship with “Charlie,” Carr recalled, “I can see it now with the smoke from the chimney curling up through the morning air as Charlie made his own breakfast and prepared to meet the day.” [2]   Records show Charles Karl Ritter, was a lifelong Pendletonian and a first- generation American whose father,  Joshua Ritter, (1850-1910) immigrated to the U.S. in 1869.[3]

Charles Colvin was among some of the first Colvin members of his line to venture into Kentucky. Records show, on August 13,  1799,  Charles purchased over 390 acres of what was considered the Howell Lewis survey paying fifteen shillings an acre or £300.[4]  It was belived his log cabin was located on this acreage.  However, it’s location was mistaken in the 1940s for that of  Henry Colvin by earlier researchers whose dwelling is much further east.[5] Moreover, the log cabin was not within the same area where the  Four Oaks settlement  was established which can be clearly discerned from an 1884 atlas which lists several of Charles’ relatives by name.[6] In addition, many of those same relatives, such as Birkett Landrum Colvin,  (1827-1905) can be found depicted in several photographs taken in 1886, where Birkett and his family can be seen posing inside and outside their home at  Four Oaks.[7]

Charles’ land  was a few miles north, as the crow flies, in an area whose borders began less than a mile outside Falmouth proper. In the days of horseback travel, at a trot, he could have been in Falmouth within twenty minutes.  He also purchased three  one-quarter-acre town lots from the city of Falmouth the same year.[8]

Current Pendleton County land records show the vicinity of  the cabin  within a 200-acre parcel belonging to a Mildred Showalter.[9] Thus, using a combination of  period United Stated Geological Survey (USGS) satellite imagery,  Pendleton County Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping data, and period Google earth satellite images, the cabin’s location was eventually located and an image obtained. Though demolished sometime after 1997, why it was razed is unknown.  It had apparently managed to survive the Great Falmouth Flood of 1996 because, according to Carr, its location  was above the area flood plain. Nevertheless, the cabin is absent in 2003 satellite imagery, which is the next year of available digitized records for the area.  Images post-2003 show a small structure built a hundred yards or so directly in front of the area where the log cabin was located. The address given for the new structure in current land records is 145 Ideal Drive, Falmouth , Pendleton County, Kentucky. Additional research is needed to determine when the land left the Colvin family and why the cabin was eventually demolished post-1997.


[1] Charles Colvin Last Will and Testament, March 15, 1810. Recorded  May 24, 1810, Pendleton County, Kentucky Deed Book B[1803-1815]:287. See also,  Pendleton County, Kentucky Court Order Book B:243.

[2] Carr to Colvin email May 14, 2015 wherein James Carr related memories of “Charlie Ritter”.

[3] Joshua Ritter household,  digitized original 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Falmouth District, Pendleton County, Kentucky, line 90, hh 172.

[4] Pendleton County, Kentucky, Deed Book A: 38

[5]  Nell Bradford  Woolery, “Some Old Homes of Pendleton County,”  unpublished manuscript,  March 7, 1940, Pendleton County Library Collection. In her narrative of the area’s history Woolery writes, “South of town about 5 miles we find the old Colvin house, which until recently had remained in the possession of that family.  It was this land–part of the Bennett Bartlett patent–that Charles Colvin purchased in 1799 and about 1805 built his house of logs using wooden pegs in place of nails in its construction.” In actuality, what she was describing was the home of  Henry “Harry” Colvin, (1762-1839) who was somewhat distantly related to Charles, but of the same Colvin line. The “Henry Colvin House” as it is known today,  remains intact, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on Colvin Bend Road, in Pendleton County,  rather east of  Charles Colvin’s original cabin location. See: NRHP website File No. 87000145 which provides images and architectural details.

[6]  “McKinneysburg Precinct 2  Pendleton County ” digitized original, Atlas of Bracken and Pendleton Counties, KY 1884  , J.D. Lake & Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pp 41.  digital collection.  

[7] Digitized original photograph, “Colvin Family at Four Oaks,” 1896,  Carol Kirkwood to author. In this image is a small gathering of  members of Colvin and Wiggins families among whom are:  Birket Landrum Colvin (1827-1905) , his wife, Sarah “Sallie” E. Beckett (1840-1918) and their children.

[8] Pendleton County, Kentucky Deed Book A: 74.

[9]  Pendleton County Property Records, GIS interface,  showing parcel: 051-00-00-020.00, 145 Ideal Drive Falmouth,  Kentucky.

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George Colvin Land Identified On Modern Google Earth Map

George Colvin's two forty-acre parcels in Monroe County, Ohio as seen for the first time on a modern satellite image.  Calculations by A. Colvin.

George Colvin’s two forty-acre parcels in Monroe County, Ohio as seen for the first time on a modern satellite image. Calculations by A. Colvin.

For those of you who may have wondered when George Colvin, who has often been defined as the progenitor of the Ohio Colvin branch of this line,  came to Ohio and where he settled, the Colvin Study has found not only the  track book entry for what is belived to be his second  land purchase among  Marietta Land Office records but, through a combination of Google Earth and Earth Point software – a GE plug-in, the precise location of George’s land, as given in both patents, 1837 and 1843 respectively have been identified. [1] (See inset).

Finding land precisely on modern day maps using the legal description in early 19th century patents is never particularly easy because, by  2015, the original land has typically changed hands many times. In addition, while the survey system in place – in George’s case, the 7-Range System of the Ohio River Survey – gives us the grid system to work within,  that system does not show us where to find it on a modern satellite image  since those images do not provide coordinates which correspond to the 7 Ranges survey system or any survey system.  Older map do offer the layouts which show the grid and other features. An 1898 atlas, for example, offers  a detailed Jackson township map, complete with  range,  township,  and section,  and many other features  where George’s land was located, but it also shows clearly  a new owner in possession of the same land.[2]

What was needed was software which could overlay the 7-Range system, Ohio River Survey coordinates atop a satellite image of  the area in question. Luckily, the Colvin Study was able to access Earth Point software which uses Bureau of Land Management (BLM) data  to generate a grid which mimics the original Ohio River Survey which was what government officials used to sell parcels of land to folks hoping to settle within the 7-Range  lands being offered up. With this grid in place, we were then able to then use the original Patent legal descriptions to narrow down the correct southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of  Range 4,  township 2,  sections 19 and  20 respectively, where George’s two  40 -acres parcels were located. The results are seen in the first image.

Digitized original George Colvin 1829 entry, Marietta land Office, Book 1. Highlighting by researcher. Source:

Digitized original George Colvin 1829 entry, Marietta Land Office, Book 1. Highlighting by author. Click to enlarge. Source:

In addition to locating both of George’s forty-acre parcels, the date of George’s purchase of his second parcel has also been established: February 12, 1839. This is deduced from his track book entry, when he applied for his patent for that land, paying $49.00.[3] According to his patent, when he went to the federal land office at the Ohio river town of Marietta, he was apparently already settled in Monroe County. When he permanently settled is hard to pinpoint because the tract book entry for his first patent, certified in 1837,  has not yet been found in period records. However, that patent hints that George was likely staying at some earlier period in  the small river village of Bellaire in  Belmont County, itself roughly 80-98  miles from the Marietta Land  Office along the Ohio river in Ohio. He’d journeyed from Stafford County, Virginia — a distance of some 300 miles at a time when horseback was the prevailing overland mode of travel —  as evidenced by his appearance in the 1830 Stafford County, Virginia federal census.[4] After securing his land, whether he returned to Stafford where his wife, Sophia and his two children were located, or remained in Monroe County to begin the business of homesteading his land for his arriving family is unknown. This second scenario seems more likely. What is known  is that by 1835, George and Sophia and their two sons, Charles and Roseberry,  had traveled to Pennsylvania where Sophia gave birth to the couple’s first  known daughter, Eliza Jane Colvin, after which time, they likely moved on to Ohio to settle permanently on their new lands in Jackson township.

As already noted, George applied for two patents; the first one certified in 1837, and a second one, applied for in 1839 which was certified in 1843.[5]  Both forty-acre parcels  are near each other – though not conjoined. The first track book entry has not yet been located and is under query.[6] Today, the area where George’s land was originally located is hilly, densely wooded, and sparsely populated with few roads. It is located within what is today considered Wayne National Forest. In the 1930s much of this area was reforested by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps, as a federal New Deal response to deforestation by generations of farmers and timber industrialists which had stripped the hills of timber causing erosion and other issues. Unfortunately the types of trees used by CCC workers were not the same as those originally cut such as Black cherry, and White Oak. Aerial views of the region, however, make it clear the land is today very lightly inhabited with what appear to be small homesteads, some quite old. One home on a modernday parcel within the region once owned by George Colvin is over 150 years old. Between the two parcels is the Locust Grove Cemetery, a small church cemetery, in Jackson township where William Colvin, (George’s first cousin, ) along with his wife and three of their eight children are buried.[7] The earliest grave among this family group is William Colvin,  who died October 14, 1887. William, like George, was originally from Virginia, the grandson of Charles B. Colvin, himself a son of Charles Colvin, Sr.  who died in Pendleton County, Kentucky in 1810, according to extant records.

In addition to locating one of his  original entries in the track books, tax , land, and probate records are also under query which may aide in helping to establish when George died and perhaps where he is interred, which has long been a mystery. It is belived he expired between 1840 and 1850 based on his last appearance with his family in the 1840 Monroe County Census, and his absence from the same census by 1850.[8] In that census, Sophia, his wife,  appears along with their children, but as head of household enumerated as a widow. [9]

Update 7/22/15 : The digitized originals of the Jackson Township, Monroe County, Ohio Personal Property tax rolls for years 1833-1838 have been reviewed. George Colvin is not listed among them. Source: “Tax duplicates 1816-1838” (Monroe County, Ohio.) Vols. 946-951. FHL reels 545128, 514164.


[1] In this image, the orange border represents the Township (Jackson); the  upper violet square is section 20, and the lower violet square is section 19. The inside upper colorized square  is the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter of each section, as called for in each patent.  Data accessed via and the Bureau of land Management Ohio River Survey records. GPS coordinates as well as a .kmz file is available from the author at

[2] “Jackson, Texas” map, Monroe County,  Ohio, digitized original, in Caldwell’s Atlas of Monroe County, Ohio, Atlas Publishing Company, Mt. Vernon, Ohio, 1898 pp 41-42. See also, “Directory of landowners: this volume pp 46. digitized Historic Map Works,

[3] George Colvin entry,  February 12, 1839,  digitized original, United States Bureau of Land Management Tract Books,  Book 1, (1820-1902) Marietta Land Office: SW ¼ of the NE ¼  of Range 4,  TWP 2, Section 19,

[4] George Colvin, digitized original of 1830 U.S. Federal Census, Stafford County, Virginia.

[5] George Colvin digitized original, patent certificate No. 5893,  March 9, 1843, Bureau of Land Management Patent Records database.

[6]   Volume 1 of Marietta Land Office Tract Book is arranged in sequential order, beginning with Range 1, and coninues in ascending order through, range, township, and section. Expecting to find George’s 1837 patent among entries in Range 4, Township 2, Section 20, it was inexplicable absent. There are two additional tract books recording entryman; however, they are arranged in no particular order.

[7] The virtual memorials of William Colvin, (1823-1887), Cazanda Bradfield Colvin (1826-1895), and three of their eight children, Roby Colvin (1851-1899), Lucinda Colvin (1853-1892) and Sophia Colvin (1865-1944) can be found at

[8] George Colvin, digitized original of 1840 U.S. Federal Census,  Jackson Twp., Monroe County, Ohio.

[9] Sophia Colvin digitized original of 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Monroe County, Ohio

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