In trying to find the parents of Lewis Suddarth, I decided to research the other Suddarths found in Southern Indiana in the early 1800’s. I have been unsuccessful in locating information about Lewis prior to his marriage in 1839, so I am hoping that research of other Suddarths may lead me to clues about Lewis. I decided to begin with James Suddarth, as I had the most information about him already collected.
James Suddarth was born 22 March 1795, according to his gravestone. He first appears on the 1820 Crawford County, Indiana census, enumerated as ‘James Suddreth’. He is the only male in the household and is enumerated as between 26 and 45 years of age. In addition, there is one female between 16 and 26 years of age and 3 females between 0 and 10 years of age. Also enumerated on this census, right below James, is a Patience Suddreth and then a Jeremiah Tadlock.
Patience is the head of household and the only female enumerated. She is also between 26 and 45 years of age. In addition, there are two males in the household, one between 0 and 10 and the other between 10 and 16. Since Lewis was born about 1812 – 1813, he could be the male child between 0 and 10. The male child between 10 and 16 could be John Suddarth, who was born 6 August 1811. There is a possibility that Patience is Lewis’s mother. I have not been able to find any other mention of Patience in any records. In addition, she appears to have died or remarried by 1830, as I have not been able to locate her on any census record for 1830. I have searched Indiana marriage records and have found no indication that she had remarried. Therefore, I believe she had died by 1830.
Jeremiah Tadlock was the husband of Sarah Suddarth. According to census records, Sarah was born around 1802 in Virginia. I believe she is a sister of James Suddarth. These three, James Suddreth, Patience Suddreth, and Jeremiah Tadlock, are listed in order, all next to each other on the census. There is no doubt that they are all the same family.
In researching James, I decided to look into his military service, because inscribed on his gravestone is ‘Served in War of 1812, Shelby Campaign, Kentucky Militia”. Since I knew he was born in Virginia, I now could establish that he migrated to Kentucky, probably as a young boy with his parents, and then as a young man, to Southern Indiana. I consulted the ‘Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky, Soldiers of the War of 1812’, published in 1891. I found a ‘James Sudduth’ who served in Captain Jesse Coffee’s Company, Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia, Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Davenport. But how could I be sure that this ‘James Sudduth’ was my James?
Since he served in the Volunteer Kentucky Militia, there are no federal records of his service. All service records, including enlistment records, would be kept at the state level. I contacted the Military History Museum in Frankfort, Kentucky and found out, to my great dismay, that Kentucky destroyed all of its military records for service prior to the Civil War, because it needed more room to store the vast amount of records which were generated after the Civil War. This took place in 1874. Being able to find no records in the State of Kentucky, I decided to see if James had applied for a pension or bounty land because of his service. I had no luck in locating a pension. However, I did find that he applied for, and received, bounty land for his service.
James Suddarth of Crawford County, Indiana, applied for bounty land three times; twice in 1850 and once in 1855. In one of his applications made in 1850, James states that he served under Captain James Coffee in the Sixth Regiment of Mounted men commanded by Col. Davenport. I could now state that the James Sudduth listed in the Report of the Adjutant General was, in fact, my James. The application further states that James volunteered at the courthouse in Casey County, Kentucky on or about the 18th day of August, 1813. The application goes on to describe his service in the war.
I now had a location in Kentucky where I could continue my research. If James was from Casey County, Kentucky, and lived there in 1813, it is very possible that Lewis was born in Casey County, since he was born around 1812 – 1813.
Military records, especially pension and bounty land files, can yield great information. They can give you new clues to follow up on and also provide some background and context to what was going on in your ancestor’s life. In this case, the clues from the bounty land file gave me a location in Kentucky to continue my research.