Friday, September 23, 2011

The Zetta Daniels Letter

I was always somewhat curious about the past even when I was younger. (I think it had to do with reading the Little House on the Prairie books and watching The Waltons on television.) When my grandmother died in 1989, several things happened as a result of that event that eventually launched me into what has been so far a never-ending journey into exploring my family history.

We drove in from out of town for the funeral as did several other family members. We stayed at my grandparents’ house and I listened in on many of the conversations that occurred among family and friends that were gathered. Family history was mentioned and the next thing I knew, a photocopy of an old letter was pulled out of a dresser drawer.

The original letter was written in 1969 by Zetta Daniels to Russell Vaughan and apparently copies had been made and passed around to various family members. Zetta chronicled the families of three Chaffin sisters of Halifax County, Virginia. Two sisters married Moorefield brothers and one sister married a Watts. Zetta was the granddaughter of Radford Moorefield. All three families migrated to Christian County, Kentucky. Beginning with that information, I started asking more questions, dragged my grandfather through fields to uncover local family cemeteries and tried to write everything down.

I’ve written the following analysis in an attempt to gather more complete information on the Radford Moorefield family. My curiosity was aroused by the statement in the letter that a daughter of Radford’s, Josephine, “burned to death at 13 or 14.” The letter did not list birthdates for the children in this family and so there was no answer as to when this event may have happened.

Radford Comby Moorefield married Frances Elizabeth Chaffin in Halifax Co, VA in 1860. They moved to Christian Co, KY around 1869, probably with his brother Charles Moorefield. Radford’s family was enumerated there during the 1870, 1880 and 1900 federal census. Radford was probably also there in 1910 as well but I have not retrieved that data yet. Radford died in Christian Co, KY on 26 November 1918. His wife apparently died between 1880 and 1900; she is listed in 1880 but he is listed as a widow in 1900.


Zetta Daniels (1969) ltr, part of page 3

The children are listed with notations as follows in the Zetta Daniels letter:

1.       Sallie – died in Virginia about 2
2.       Betty James – married Walter R. Dawson (this is Zetta’s mother)
3.       Edmonia – married Jim Richards
4.       Florence       } died about 5 & 6
5.       Thomas
6.       Maratha Susan (Aunt Duck) married Hershal Renshaw
7.       Captolia (Aunt Dove) married Sam Northington
8.       Annie married Walter Ward
9.       Robert Chaffin married Alberta Higgins, Virginia Cook, Myrtle Murphy
10.   Josephine – burned to death about 13 or 14
11.   Wyatt – died in a few months

In 1870, the family is found indexed under Rad Morefield with the following children:

1.       Bettie, age 7, b. VA                                                   [b. ca. 1863]
2.       Joe, age 6, b. VA [Josephine?]                                   [b. ca. 1864]
3.       Fannie, age 5, b. VA                                                   [b. ca. 1865]
4.       Jane, age 3, b. VA (Edmonia?)                                   [b. ca. 1867]
5.       Lizzie, age 6 mos. , b. KY [must be Martha S.]           [b. 1869]

 Joe is listed as a male, but could this be Josephine? More information is still needed.

In the 1880 census, the family is enumerated there as follows:

1.       Bettie age 16                                              [b. ca. 1864]
2.       Dindil (?) age 14 [Fannie/Florence?]          [b. ca. 1866]
3.       Arlie (?) age 12 [Edmonia?]                        [b. ca. 1868]
4.       Dora age 11 [must be Martha S.]               [b. ca. 1869]
5.       Florence age 9 [must be Captolia]             [b. ca. 1871]
6.       Annie age 7                                                [b. ca. 1873]
7.       Tom age 5                                                  [b. ca. 1875]
8.       Rod age 3                                                   [b. ca. 1877]
9.       Corrah age 1                                               [b. ca. 1879]

The next census available is twenty years later and a lot has happened in that time. Rad is widowed and has his son Robert C. Moorefield living with him and also his daughter Annie L. who was married to Walter Ward. From this census, we find Robert’s birth date is September 1878 and Annie’s is February  1873. Two households before this one is Herschel Renshaw and his wife Martha S. whose birth date is listed as January 1869. In another district in Christian Co. we find Sam Northington with his wife Captolia with a birth date of March of 1871. The household before this was James Richards and his wife Lula with a probable birth date of May 1867, although it’s somewhat difficult to read. They were married for three years and the census listed that she has 0 children being born to her, although on the next page is a son William born August 1899. Lula’s parents are listed as being born in Kentucky. This may not have been Edmonia, but a marriage between James Richards and Edmonia Moorefield is listed in Christian Co as occurring on 31 Oct 1888 which would have been three years prior to this census. I also found a James Richards listed in the Powell Cemetery (I believe) with a Lula Dawson Richards. I need to check on this further. I couldn’t find Walter Dawson readily in the census index. It was definitely Lula Dawson who is listed on a Rootsweb WorldConnect submission as the wife of James W. Richards. It would appear that Edmonia didn’t live very long at all if this Jim Richards married Lula, their marriage date was around 1888 also. They were married 13 years according to the 1910 census. This Jim Richards and family lived in Stewart Co, TN in 1910 and 1920.

An online message board called Morefield Homeplace indicated that Betty James’ was born October 1863 in Halifax Co, VA. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MOREFIELDHOMEPLACE/

It would appear that I have most of the known children listed for Radford accounted for in census records. I don’t know what happened to the child Corrah. It appears that maybe the Fannie listed in 1870 is the same as Dindel in 1880 (Dindel doesn’t seem right, but it’s all I can decipher). This may be the Florence from the original list, but if so she didn’t die until she was in her early teens at least. The only child I can place as Josephine is the one in the 1870 census with a birth date around 1864. This would mean the fire took place about 1878.

Putting this all together, we have the following:

1.       Sallie Moorefield born ca. 1861 and died in Virginia about 1863.
2.       Betty James Moorefield, born October 1863 in Halifax County, Virginia; married Walter R. Dawson.
3.       Josephine Moorefield, born ca. 1864; burned to death age 13 or 14 (ca. 1878).
4.       Florence born about 1866; died around 1872.
5.       Edmonia Moorefield, born around 1867; married Jim Richards.
6.       Martha Susan Moorefield (Aunt Duck) born 28 July 1869 Christian County, Kentucky; married Hershal Renshaw.
7.       Captolia Moorefield (Aunt Dove) born March 1871; married Sam Northington
8.       Annie L. Moorefield, born February 1873; married Walter Ward.
9.       Thomas Moorefield, born about 1875; died around 1880.
10.   Robert Chaffin Moorefield, born September 1878; married Alberta Higgins, Virginia Cook, Myrtle Murphy.
11.   Wyatt Moorefield, born about 1880; died in a few months.

In another post, I’ll explain my interest in the fire that took the life of Josephine.

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