Here, the last name looks to be spelled Griffar. Doing research on this family, I've also seen it spelled Griffard, Griffon, Griffan, and Gorfard. This line of ancestors were not well educated. Censuses show many could not read or write, so to have the name misspelled would not surprise me. In fact, when researching the name Griffaw on Ancestry.com, I could not find it until the 1880s, and then only in southeast Missouri, where this line is from.
Ste. Genevieve's Project Pioneer honors two family lines each year during their "Jour de Fete." In 2001
they honored the Griffard family who came to the area around the 1780s from Quebec, Canada. In the book they created for this family, they show all 5 names listed above. In this book it says the parents of these children were Jean Michel Griffard and Anne Grissom. I'm not sure where their information comes from, there are no references in the book (I do have a copy in hand). However, I do know that Mary Elisabeth's mother's name is Anne (also shown as Ann, Annie, and Anna).
There is an entry in the 1830 Federal Census for a Michel Grifford living in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The census picture is very hard to read, but there is something written above his name, however, I can't make it out and it wasn't transcribed on the listing on Ancestry.com. In his household Ancestry has it transcribed as one male under the age of 5, one male age 20-29, 2 females age 5-10, and one female age 20-29. If you look at the actual document, even though it's hard to read, it looks like the older male is actually 50-59 years old. This would make sense, especially if this is the same Jean Michel Griffard in the Pioneer book. Church Baptismal records list him as being born September 29, 1780.
The first document were we see Mary Elisabeth's name is a marriage record dated June 25, 1840 in Bois Bruel, Perry County, Missouri. She married Hezekiah Cotner. Hezekiah was the son of Jacob Cotner and Elizabeth Lewis who lived in Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.
I also believe she was living in the household of Nathaniel J. Divine during the 1840 census. Her mother married Nathaniel in 1836, after the death of her father. The ages of the children in the household match the ages of the children written above. The family was living in Perry County, Missouri.
The 1850 Federal Census, we are able to finally see Mary Elisabeth's name along with her family. They are living in Brazeau Township, Perry County, Missouri. The following people are shown in the household:
- Hezekiah Cotner age 39
- Mary Cotner age 28
- Nathaniel J. Cotner age 9
- Martha Cotner age 6
- Michael Cotner age 3
- Susannah A. Cotner age 1
Not far from them is her mother, brother John and sister Ann. her mother is listed as Ann Davis. Nathaniel J. Divine died sometime before 1844, when she married Spencer B.R. Davis.
In 1860, the family moves to Liberty Township, St. Francois County, Missouri. Here we see the following shown on the Federal Census for this year:
- Hezekiah Cotner age 48
- Mary Cotner age 37
- Martha Cotner age 14
- Mida Cotner age 11
- Mary Cotner age 7
- Hezekiah Cotner age 1
I'm not sure what happened to Nathaniel and Micheal. They may have died between 1850 and 1860. I believe Mida is Susannah A., possibly short for Arminda? The younger Hezekiah was actually Isaac Hezekiah.
By 1870, we do not see Hezekiah. I believe he may have died sometime prior to the 1870 Federal Census. In the household, we see the following people living in Marion, St. Francois County, Missouri:
- Mary Cotner age 46
- Mary E. Cotner age 16
- Isaac Cotner age 11
- Louisa Cotner age 9
I'm not sure what happened to Martha. She may have married and moved away, or may have died as well. Louisa is my great, great grandmother, Louisa Nancy Carolyn Cotner (you can read about her and her husband and children in the post I did earlier about her husband William Francis Gibson).
By 1880, the family moved to Plattin, Jefferson County, Missouri. Here it states Mary is a widow. Mary Elizabeth Cotner (daughter of Mary Elisabeth Griffaw) had married James Gibson, and her mother, brother Isaac and sister Louisa were living next to them. On a side note, James Gibson was the uncle of Louisa's husband, William Francis Gibson. In the household we see:
- Mary Cotner age 50
- Isaac Cotner age 20
- Louisa Cotner age 16
The ages on these census records are always different!
By 1900, after all her children had married, she moved in with her brother John. John never married, and I believe he owned a farm in Plattin. I believe this, because in the papers my Great Aunt Vickie gave my mother, there were some notes from Betty Tracy Thayer, daughter of Emma Clyde Gibson, Granddaughter of Louisa Cotner. In it Betty wrote about a fond memory her mother, Emma had:
"She (Emma) recalled the times when she was a child that her father would rent a carriage (rig) with horses, and they would all pile in it, kids and mother and father, and drive out to the "Plattin" to her grandfather and grandmother Cotner's farm for the day, she said it was "great fun."
John would have been her great uncle, not her grandfather, but grandmother Cotner would have been correct.
After 1900, I'm not sure what happened to her. I haven't been able to locate a death record, and she is not located on the 1910 census that I know of. Her daughter, Louisa, passed away in 1904 of "Consumption," or Tuberculosis. Louisa's husband died also that same year from the disease.
Mary's daughter, Mary E. Cotner Gibson, along with her brother, John Baptiste Joseph Griffaw, and mother, Anne Grissom Griffaw Divine Davis, were all buried at Charter Baptist Church Cemetery in Festus, Jefferson County, Missouri. Maybe that is where she would have been buried too? I'll have to make a trip down there to see. It's on my very long list of places to go and research.
If you have any questions, or concerns, about any of the information listed above, please leave a comment. I'd be happy to share any additional information I have. Thanks for reading!