In a previous post, I mentioned that there are four men in Southern Indiana in the early 1800’s who may or may not be brothers. It has always been assumed that they are brothers, but there has been no evidence found to support that conclusion. That is no longer the case. In the letter written by Jerry L. Suddarth, he mentions that his grandfather, James, had brothers Benjamin, Lewis and John. In addition, he tells us that James had a sister Sadie. Sadie is a nickname for Sarah and there is a Sarah Suddarth in Southern Indiana at the same time as the others. The information I have found for the Suddarths in Southern Indiana in the early 1800’s is as follows:
- James, born 1795 in Virginia
- Benjamin, born 1801 in Virginia
- Sarah, born 1803 in either Virginia or Kentucky
- John, born 1811 in Kentucky
- Lewis, born 1812 in Kentucky
This information matches the information given in the letter. However, if these five a siblings, why is there such a large gap in the birth dates between Sarah and John? By looking at the locations of the births, it would appear that the family moved from Virginia to Kentucky sometime between 1801 and 1811. According to the 1850 Crawford County, Indiana census, Sarah was born in Kentucky. In the 1860 Crawford County census, her birthplace is given as Virginia. The large gap in the birth years could be due to the family’s migration between 1801 and 1811. However, another possibility, which I think is more likely, is that there are two different mothers here.
It would seem likely that James, Benjamin and Sarah were born to one mother and John and Lewis to another. This could indicate that the mother of James, Benjamin and Sarah died sometime after 1803 and that the father remarried, possibly after migrating to Kentucky. This suggests that any extant death and marriage records should be searched in Virginia and Kentucky for the time period between 1803 to 1811. In addition, the six-year gap between the births of James and Benjamin may indicate the birth of additional child who died while young.
While it may seem a large undertaking to search death and marriage records in all of Virginia and Kentucky, the letter does provide a clue to help narrow down the areas to begin searching. Jerry Suddarth mentions that the two brothers settled in Albemarle County, Virginia and that the family went from Virginia to Tennessee to Kentucky to Indiana. It is very possible that the family migrated to Kentucky along the Wilderness Road, which went Southwest in Virginia, dipped into Tennessee, then turned Northwest through the Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky. The Wilderness Road then went up to Lincoln County, Kentucky, not far from Casey County, which is where James has been located in 1813. Therefore, looking in the counties through which the Road passed would be the place to begin.