Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sibling Saturday: Further Lessons In Intermarriage

One of my earliest introductions to some of my ancestors was through the Zetta Daniels letter (see this post here). In page 2 of the letter shown below, Zetta refers to common ancestors Wyatt Chaffin & Betsy Cheatam [sic]. As Zetta wrote, two Moorefield brothers married two Chaffin sisters and a third Chaffin sister married a Watts. Emily Jane Chaffin was my second great-grandmother and married George Richard “Dick” Watts (the notation of "Dad's grandmother" on this sheet is in my dad's hand). I will post a scan of that Watts family bible record on this blog soon.

The marriages of these Chaffin girls are recorded in Halifax County, Virginia (as is the marriage of their parents Joseph W. Chaffin and Elizabeth Cheatham in 1837). Intermarrying among the same families was quite common. One of my first contributions to the World Wide Web was an article about the lessons in intermarriage among the daughters of Nash Glidewell of Halifax County, Virginia which can be found by clicking here. The Moorefield/Chaffin sibling intermarriages were no exception.  There was actually another Moorefield/Chaffin marriage in the same family, that of the brother of the Chaffin sisters, William, who married a sister of the Moorefield brothers, Martha Susan.

Anyway, before we get further tangled up, what I learned about Betsy Cheatham indicates that there was in all likelihood additional intermarriage among these families. In the Watts family bible record, the death of Elizabeth Chaffin is recorded as November 8, 1866. It was the one clue I needed to obtain a certified copy of her death certificate from the state of Virginia. This certificate (shown below) states she died in October of 1866 and named her parents as Henry and Hannah. I spent a good amount of time searching for further information regarding Henry and Hannah and will detail that in a post in the future. I actually published an article on that in the August 1998 issue of the VA-NC Piedmont Lineages newsletter.

Certification of Death: Elizabeth Chaffin, line #61, Halifax Co, VA,
original record issued 17 October 1989, Division of Vital Records, Richmond, VA

Records on Cheathams in Halifax County are somewhat scarce. The only Cheatham census listing there was Hannah Cheatham in 1830. The household at that time consisted of one male 15-20, one female 5-10, one female 10-15, two females 15-20 and one female 40-50, 6 total.

As to who these persons in Hannah's household might have been, the eldest female is more than likely Hannah herself. Betsy would have been about seventeen years old, so would then be one of the females aged 15-20.  A Martha R. Cheatham was a witness to Betsy's marriage to Joseph Wyatt Chaffin; she was possibly a sister to Betsy and one of the females enumerated in Hannah's household.  A Margaret S. Cheatham married Elisha B. Jeffress in Halifax County, Virginia on 14 October 1843; she may also have been a sister.  A Robertson B. Cheatham was listed in the 1840 U. S. Census index on page 8 of the northern district of Halifax County, Virginia. I had speculated that he could have possibly been the male aged 15-20 in Hannah's household, but that has not been explored further and remains only speculation.

I posted a query back in 2002 on the old Genforum site under the Cheatham Family Forum asking about these possible children of Henry and Hannah Cheatham. About five years later, a gentleman by the name of Jerry Jeffress posted a reply saying “I am looking for information on my great, great grandfather Elisha Benjamin Jeffress born in 1816 specifically his father and mother. However, The information I have shows him marring Marget Gregory on 10 April 1850.” I am inclined to say that this may be one and the same Elisha B. Jeffress and that his first wife may have died if there was indeed a second marriage for him in 1850. The time period is correct.

As to Martha R. Cheatham, it appears that she was the wife of Elijah Moorefield. See this entry here under the Caswell County Family Tree in Rootsweb for further information on her witnessing the 1837 marriage as Elizabeth’s sister and stating that she was over 21 years old (placing her year of birth to at least 1816). This entry also explains the probable connection between Elijah and the other Moorefields. See this entry for further information regarding Elijah and Martha’s family.

So it would appear that more intermarriages took place among these families. I can’t even begin to consider drawing a diagram to put it in visual form; it’s too convoluted!  For the record, it must be noted that it is my belief that Martha Cheatham’s parentage is incorrectly listed in this Caswell County Family Tree. One of these days, I will tell you more about what I know about Henry and Hannah Cheatham but enough’s enough for one post.


  1. C.C. (Charles Christopher Columbus) Moorefield is my great-great grandfather and John Alvin (Jack) MOorefield is my great-grandfather, Lucy Moorefield (his daughter) is my grandmother :)

    1. Hello then, cousin! Our common ancestors were also Wyatt Chaffin and Betsy Cheatham.