“What is the one question genealogists want to answer?” That’s how a speaker at a genealogy conference started his talk. You can imagine the various answers, none of which were correct. Think about it. I’ll answer later.
Today’s story is about the earliest Watts I have been able to find in our family lineage. It will be fairly obvious as time goes on that we descend from John C. Watts and Susan Sageser, married in 1820 in Jessamine County, Kentucky. We know about Susan’s family. The Sagesers were early pioneers in the area. But where did John come from. I think I found the answer. Look at this document:
At the top it says December Court 1805. This is from the county court record book in the courthouse in Nicholasville. The first entry is a continuation from page 206. The next entry is about the recording of a mark. And the next entry is the one we’re interested in:
It is ordered that Susan Watts be appointed guardian to William, John, George and Saint Clair Watts infant orphans of George Watts decd & the said Susan entered into bond with Henry King and Samuel Watts conditioned according to law —
This tells us a couple of things…George Watts died on or before the year 1805. He had at least four kids who were not 21 by 1805…those being Bill, John, George and Saint (by the way, Saint Clair leads to names like Sinclair, Sinc and Hey, dude). Susan could be either his wife, sister or aunt and Samuel could be his brother or father but probably not his oldest child. It’s possible that the kids are listed in birth order. That’s not necessarily the case, but that was the convention so that would make William the oldest and Sinc the youngest. And Henry King is probably the county coroner. In addition to dead things, coroners, then as now, acted as public administrators for estates.
The next time we hear from these good folks is five years later. They’re still working on this estate but now a couple of things have changed.
Our entry is the one at the bottom. I folded the sheet in the middle so we could fit it all into one page. Here’s what happened in Jessamine County court August of 1810:
On motion of Henry King it is ordered that James Hand, John Fishback, Wm A Fry and Thos B Scott or any three of them be appointed commissioners to the dower of Susanna Watts now Susana King (w)idow and relict of George Watts decd and report etc.
Whoa…she married the guy. A couple of points. She might have married another guy named King. And we now know she was the wife/widow of our George who was the father of all those kids.
A couple of pages later, the commissioners reported back to the court and recorded the allotment of Susan’s dower but there’s a few more interesting notes on the page.
Right there at the top…Susie, widow of George, now wife of Henry King. She did marry the guy. And look at the next entry. He is the coroner of Jessamine County. At the bottom of the page, Sam gets released from his bond since Suze is no longer a Watts…she’s King’s problem.
Okay, one more page and we’ll have our problem solved. This is where we find out who John Watts’ parents are.
It’s 1820. They’ve been working on this thing for 15 years. The entry we’re interested in is the last one.
George and Charles S Watts infant sons of Geo Watts Deceased This day made choice of their brother William Watts as their Guardian who thereupon executed bond with John C Watts, Thomas E West, Ray Moss and Frederick Sagerser his securities in the penalty of Four thousand Dollars conditioned according to law —
How about that. Lots to unpack. George and Charles S (probably Saint Clair as a middle name name) born between 1799 and 1805. In those days for estate language you were an infant until you reached maturity at 21. George Sr.’s kids we met in the very first entry were listed in age order. The younger brothers would have picked their older brother as their guardian. All four of them are listed in this entry and we see John with a middle initial C for the first time. And notice who also is mentioned in the bond…Frederick Sagerser. He’s the father of Susan Sageser who by the end of the year will marry John C. Watts. This John C. Watts, whose parents are George and Susan, is our ancestor…my (our) great- great- great grandfather.
And that’s the one question every genealogist is trying to answer…Who are the parents?