Tuesday, August 26, 2014

52 Ancestors Challenge - Anne Grissom Griffaw Divine Davis lived to be 104 years?? - Week 30

My last post was on Mary Elisabeth Griffaw.  This week, I'm going to talk about her mother, Anne Grissom.

In the Charter Baptist Church Cemetery is a headstone for Anna Griffaw, who died at age 104.  I believe this is the grave of my 4th great grandmother.  The stone says she was 104 years old when she died in 1885!!  The record of her death is also found on Missouri Digital Heritage, you can see it here (the original can be seen on Ancestry.com, if you have a subscription, look up Annie Griffaw under the database Missouri death records, 1834-1910).  I have a newspaper clipping regarding the death of her son, John Baptiste Joseph Griffaw, written around August of 1920.  In the clipping, it states that his mother lived to be 104 too.  But is that correct?  They may have just copied what was on the headstone or death record.  Every census record I have found on her says otherwise.  Death records aren't always right, and tombstones aren't always right either.  For now, I'll just fill you in on what I do know, and where I received my information.

Newspaper clipping on the death of John Baptiste Joseph Griffaw.  Not sure which paper it came from, but someone wrote August 1920 on it.  This copy was given to my mother from her Aunt Vickie.  John was not our great grandfather, as it was written above.  From family notes, it is said the children of William Gibson and Nancy Louise Carolyn Cotner would travel out to visit their "grandparents" on their farm in Plattin.  Their grandmother, Mary Elisabeth Griffaw Cotner was a widow by the time they were born, and was living with her brother John, their great uncle in Plattin.
I don't have any true proof stating Anne's maiden name was Grissom (i.e. birth record, marriage record, etc.), so I can't be sure.  I do have a copy of a family history book that was completed by the Ste. Genevieve Project Pioneer on the Griffard family that settled there around the 1780s.  In that book, it states "Jean Michel Griffard married Anne Grissom.  She was born 1804."  It also states the names of their children along with their birth dates.  These children were the same children written on a piece of paper I received from my mom, who received it from her Aunt Vickie back in 2003.

Back in 2003, my Gibson family had a reunion back in De Soto, Missouri.  I wasn't able to attend, but my Great Aunt Vickie sent my mom some copies of paperwork from the event.  One of those papers was a list of children and their birth dates.  No mention of a mother or father though.  Here is a copy of that paper.

Where this came from, I'm not sure.  But the first name is indeed the name of my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Elisabeth Griffaw.  Mary Elisabeth married a man named Hezekiah Cotner, a man of German decent whose family settled in the Cape Girardeau and St. Francois county areas of Missouri in the early 1800s.  Together, they had my 2nd great grandmother, Louisa Nancy Carolyn Cotner.  I've written briefly about Nancy in an earlier post that was about her husband William Francis Gibson.  There you can see a picture of Louisa and William.

I'll start by saying, I'm not sure where Ste. Genevieve Project Pioneer received their information.  There are no references for any of it.  So, this hunt is a work in progress.

The first census document we see with the Jean Michel Griffard family may be found in 1830.  On Ancestry.com, we find an entry for a Michael Grifford, or Michael Griffard, living in Ste. Genevieve City, Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri.  In his household there was one male under 5, one male, age 50-60, 2 females age 5-9, and one female age 29-29.  If you go to the next page, it clearly says there are 5 people in the household.  Above his name something was written, but I can not read it.  It is too faint to see on the online copy.

I believe this is the family of Jean Michel Griffard.  He was born in 1780, which puts him at about 50 years old.  His birth is well documented in church records, and in several book that I have seen (more about him in a future post).  If Anne was born in 1804, then she would have been about 26.  Mary Elisabeth and Susan Mary would have been 9 and 6.  Finally, Micheal would have been 4, so under the age of 5.

According to the information found in the family book by Ste. Genevieve Project Pioneer, we see Jean Michel Griffard dies January 1, 1836 in Ste. Genevieve.  I'm hoping there is a record of this somewhere, but again, I don't have that record.  So I'm not 100% sure of this.  But I do know there is a record for a marriage for "Mrs. Ann Griffan" to Nathaniel Divine in the neighboring county of Perry, Missouri, on July 18, 1836.  In addition, Anne's daughter, Mary Elisabeth, named her first born son Nathaniel J. Cotner.  Could she have named him after her stepfather??  There are no other Nathaniels that I can find in the family.

Later, in the 1840 Federal Census, we see a Nathaniel Divine living in Perry County, Missouri with the following people living in the household (the actual ages of the Griffard family in 1840 are in parenthesis - they are not listed on the census, I'm just making a comparison):

  • one male age 5-9 (John Baptiste Joseph Griffard age 9)
  • one male age 10-14 (Michael Griffard age 14)
  • one male age 40-49 (Nathaniel Divine)
  • one female age 5-9 (Ann Griffard age 5)
  • two females age 15-19 (Mary Elisabeth Griffard age 19 and Susan Mary Griffard age 16)
  • one female age 30-39 (Anne Grissom Griffard Divine age 36 if born i 1804)
February 26, 1844 there is another marriage record that I believe belongs to our Anne.  It shows Ann Divine married Spencer B.R. Davis in Perry County, Missouri (info from Ancestry.com, Missouri Marriages to 1850).  Nathaniel Divine must have died between 1840 and 1844.  Spencer B.R. Davis may have died not long after the marriage too.  Because in 1850, we find and Anne Davis living with John B. Griffan (or Griffau) and Ann Griffan (or Griffau) in Brazeau Township, Perry County, Missouri.  Not far from them are Mary Elisabeth and her husband Hezekiah Cotner with their family.

I have searched high and low to find the family on the 1860 Federal Census, but haven't been able to yet.  We do find Anne on the 1870 Federal Census though.  She is now living in Plattin Township, Jefferson County, Missouri, and listed as Anna Griffaw age 50.  Her son John is living with her.  The ages for her and John are not correct.  But it says they were both born in Missouri.  It also says both of her parents were of foreign birth.  Notice too, she is using the last name of Griffaw, not Davis.  

In 1880 we find Anne and John both living in Plattin still.  This time, John's age is listed as 30 years old, and Anne is listed as 65.  John is now listed as head of household, and Anne listed as his mother.  Her place of birth is now listed as Kentucky, with her father being born in Virginia and mother born in Pennsylvania.  They are both listed as having the last name of Griffaw.  

On April 20, 1885, the death of Annie Griffaw was reported.  On this death record (which can be found on Ancestry.com, Missouri Death Records 1834-1910) it states she died March 12, 1884.  Did they really wait a year to report it?  Her tombstone, which you can see here at findagrave.com, says she died March 14, 1885.  So which is it?  The number 4, on 1884, is underlined in the record.

This death record also says she was 104 years old.  Would that be right?  It also states she was a widow, of Irish decent, and born in Kentucky.  The record says she had been living in Missouri for 90 years, and died at her son John Griffaw's residence in Plattin Township.  Cause of death was Angina Pectoris.  She was buried at Charter Cemetery (now Charter Baptist Church Cemetery in Festus, Jefferson County, Missouri) March 14, 1885.  So she probably did die in 1885, not 1884 like the other part of the record states.

If Anne was 104 in 1885, she would have been born in 1781.  Which means she would have been 54 years old when her youngest daughter, Ann, was born.  Not impossible, but I'm not buying it!!  I'm guessing she was born around the early 1800s.

I've done a little research on the last name of Grissom, trying to find any family she may have had living nearby.  There was a Nelson Grissom living in Perry County in 1840, 1850, and 1860.  He was born in Kentucky about 1804.  Could they be related?  I haven't found a link.  There are a few Grissom families residing in Kentucky in the early 1800s.  I'm still looking into a connection, but I know I may never find it.

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!

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