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Nancy Venters vs Nancy Crum: Facts & Fiction
Posted by: Sally Andrews Neely (ID *****6497) Date: November 01, 2002 at 15:12:48
  of 83

What We Know So Far About Nancy Venters
(What about Nancy Crum?)

Each of us in the Venters research group has well documented his/her lineage back to one of the four siblings of Nancy Venters: John (b 1823), James (b 1825), Elizabeth (b abt 1826) and George (b 1828) in Pike Co KY. Below I’ve stated the facts with supporting documentation, followed by some thoughts that have not been substantiated.

On your first read-through, please put aside your own personal assumptions and read the facts as if you’d never heard of these people before. Then go back and think through your information and theories with what is presented here.

I put this together only as a springboard for discussion and further research, so your comments are necessary and welcome. My only suggestion is that we should conclude by coming to some sort of an understanding, as to whether Nancy Crum fits into our line or not before we try to get back beyond this point. Then we can start digging together again.


Events concerning Nancy Crum & John Venters:
1810       Adam Crum in Floyd Co KY Tax list. Tax list for Prestonsburg, Floyd Co KY also contains Arthur Venters
1813       Jesse Venters, s/o Arthur Venters, married Sary Baker 26 Jul 1813: Floyd Co Marriages
1816       Nancy Crum, dau of Adam Crum, married John Venters, s/o Arthur Venters, 27 Oct 1816: Floyd Co Marriages
1820       Floyd Co KY Federal Census, p 41: John Venters (one male, age bet 26-45 yrs; one female, age bet 16-26 yrs) with wife father-in-law, Adam Crum nearby. Also Jesse Venters nearby.
1820       Jesse & John Venters on Floyd Co KY Tax List.
1823       Adam Crum, Jesse Venters, John Venters on 1823 Lawrence Co KY Tax List. This area had previously been Floyd County.
1822+       John Venters purchased land in Lawrence Co KY, land that has previously been Floyd Co, in 1822, 1824, 1826, & 1827.
1830       Lawrence Co KY Federal Census, p 291: John Venters with two males under age 5, one male 20-29, one female 20-29. Jesse Venters and Adam Crum are nearby. This is land that had been Floyd Co before 1822.
1841       Adam Crum & John Ventrose, Cabell Co VA, 30 Jul 1841, a grant of 80 acres on the ridge between Moses Fork & Spruce Pine Fork, both of the Right Fork of Twelve Pole Creek, Grants # 91, p 625, Land Grant Abstracts, Wayne Co VA, found on the Wayne Co website.
1842       Wayne Co VA: “Indenture between John Venters and his wife & David Crum bargain & Sell 80 acres on Moses Fork. This was land purchased earlier from his father-in-law, Adam Crum.” (Wayne Co VA Deed Bk A, p 52). Wayne Co was created in 1842 from Cabell Co VA. West Virginia wasn’t created until 1861 – Wayne Co is now in WVA.
1850**       Wayne Co VA Federal census (this land was previously Cabell Co VA): p 264B: John Venters age 50, birthplace Unknown; b 265A Nancy Venters age 50, b KY. P 264: Adam Crum Sr age 80, along with many other Crum family members.

Events concerning Nancy Venters & James Bryant:
1823       Joseph Briant, Arnold Perry, 4 William Ratliffs: Pike Co Tax List (Pike Co KY created in 1822 from Floyd Co KY).
1823-1828        Four children of Nancy were born: John (1823, from National Archives files), James (1825 from death certificate), Elizabeth (abt 1826, estimated from various census records, Stone Gap Post article) & George (1829 from death certificate), born in Pike Co KY.
1825       Pike Co KY Court Order, 1825 Term of Court, Book A1, p 118: Ordered that after hearing evidence concerning ? of Nancy Venters & children she not appearing ? ? made for an alias subpoena to Ishew for her to appear next court. The Court overruled the motion.”
1829       Pike Co KY Court Order, March term 1829 – Book A, p 211: “Ordered that a subpoena herein be served against Caleb G Bailey, Polly Ford, Elizabeth Perry, Nancy Venters, Rebecca Ford, Elijah Hansly, Elizabeth Stotter, James Morgan, Polly Lucas, Gatsey Gray, Jesse Adkins & Sally Boney, Nancy Newsom, Isaac Roberts & Dorcus Mullens, Joseph Briant & Arti Mullens, Isham Mullens & Betsey Newson, Harrison Newson & Polly Kinney, George Collans & Patsy Kirk, Martin Collans & Mary Collans, Moredy Collans & Milly Johnson, Thomas Stewart & Jane Potter, Marshal Mullens & Sally Potter, Hiram Cantrell & Polly Elswick, Peggy Bishop, Sally Belcher, Charlotte Johnson & Frederick Adkins to appear at our next term to shew cause if any they can, why their children shall not be bound out."
1839       "License issued in Pike Co KY May 22, 1839 by John D Mims Clk for marriage of James Briant and Nancy Venters, with oral consent of said Nancy Venters. Bond, by James Briant and Joseph Briant Jr.; signed Jas Bryant and Jos Bryant (by marks). Married May 22 by Wm. Campbell JP." Daughter Elizabeth married same day: "License issue 22 May, 1839 by John D Mims Clk for marriage of Joseph Briant and Elizabeth Venters, with oral consent of Nancy Venters, parent of the said Elizabeth Venters. Bond, dated May 22, 1839, by Joseph Briant and James Briant; signed by Joseph Briant and Jas Briant (by marks). Married May22, 1839 by Wm. Campbell, JP."
1845/6       Nancy signed for her son, George’s marriage: “License issued in Pike Co, KY December 30, 1845 by John D Mims Clk for marriage of George M Venters and Susanah Clevinger. Clerk certified that "the necessary certificates were produced to me from Alexander Clevinger & Nancy Bryant parents of the said George Martin Venters & Susanah Clevinger". Bond signed by George M Venters and John Venters. Letter of consent, dated December 25, 1845, for "my sone George M Venters & Susanah Clevenger to be joined together in matrimony"; signed by Nancy "Briant" and attested by James Venters and John Venters. Letter of consent, dated December 29, 1845; Signed by Alexander Cleavinger and witnessed by John Venters and Fleming (Clair Mass?). Married 1 January, 1846, by William Ramey, JPPC.”
1850**Federal Census: Russell Co VA. James & Nancy Bryant listed with his daughter and his mother (all named Nancy) living with them. They are very near her daughter Elizabeth & Joseph Bryant’s family and Nancy’s son, James & Emeline Venters’ family. Nancy’s other two sons John & George are both located in Lawrence Co KY in the 1850 census.
1853       James and George Martin Venters, Joseph and James Briant are all taxed for the new road put in their neighborhood in Russell Co, VA. (
1860       Federal Census: Pike Co. James & Nancy Briant listed, next door to her daughter, Elizabeth and Joseph Briant
1870       Federal Census: Pike Co. Nancy age 65, and husband James Bryant age 63, in dwelling #37. Next-door is her granddaughter, Hulda and her first husband, VanOver in #36. Then next to them in #35 is George & Susannah Venters, Nancy’s youngest son.
1878       Nancy Venters died: “Nancy, mother of James Venters, aged 74 yrs 2 mo 2 da died 12 May 1878” found on tombstone in Branham-Whitt Cemetery, adjacent land of son James Venters, Wise Co VA. contains a photo of the tombstone.
1880       Federal Census: Upper Elkhorn Dist, Pike Co, KY. James Briant now living with new wife Martha (?) Munson (Messer?) and her four children, plus James’ 90 yr old mother, Nancy. Hulda, daughter of Elizabeth Venters Briant and the granddaughter of Nancy Venters Briant (who died in 1878), is still living next door, but with the new husband, Thomas Wyatt.

1)       In a letter to Judy Wilson’s Grandmother Bertha from her aunt Elsie Venters Rowell in 1969: “Cousin Roy Wilson (Aunt Nan Venters’ Methodist minister son & editor of the Methodist Journal in Cincinnati) tried to trace the family tree and ran into a snag when going further than Grandpa (John b 1823), for he was apparently a ‘woods colt’. There were a few rumors that his father was the son of one of the wealthy planters thereabouts.”

2)       Another quote from notes of Judy’s Grandmother Bertha: “John Venters was the son of an un-registered marriage – a poor country girl – the man was the son of a wealthy planter.”

3)       In an e-mail message from Marion Varvel, she states “something funny going on”. Marion’s Grandfather told her sister that their name should have been Ratliff.

4)       Kay Barmore’s uncle told her the same story – that their name should have been Ratliff.

5)       In the “Big Stone Gap Post” newspaper story in 1923 telling the story of the life of James Venters (b 1825), there is no mention of a father or even a father figure in the entire lengthy two-section story. It relates that James “fully realized the care of the family was largely upon him” and talks of the many hardships this young boy endured to provide for his mother and other children in the family.

6)       A girl named Sue wrote to the GenForum that she had a theory about the Venters/Ratliff connection. She claims to descend from Elizabeth Perry, the d/o Mary Robinson and Abraham Perry (which Zane Perry has written extensively about). Sue says she has a letter stating that her gggrandfather was the son of Elizabeth and Thompson Ratliff. She proposes that “our” Nancy Venters (Mary Robinson Perry later married Arthur Venters and had children) might be Elizabeth’s half-sister and may have had her four children by Thompson Ratliff’s brother, William Ratliff. She admits, it is only a theory and she has no proof, but it is an interesting story coming from an “outsider”.

Children with a mother’s surname:
7)       Joe Venters has two generations of unmarried females bearing and raising children under their given surnames: Margaret Wright and Sidney Wright.
8)       I (Sally) have a couple of Neely females early in my Neely lines who also were unmarried and had children carrying the Neely name.
9)       There has been some concern about Nancy being buried as Nancy Venters. Actually I don’t believe any death certificate has been found and the tombstone inscription only says “Nancy, mother of James Venters….” A female being buried under her maiden name is not without precedent. Jonah Mays found Mariah Venters listed in the KY death records under her maiden name instead of one of her five married names. My feeling is that “our” Nancy was Nancy Venters while her children were growing up and was that name to them even when they buried her. The fact that she later married James Bryant didn’t change the fact that she was “Nancy Venters” to her children.
10)       We have three death certificates stating that father of Nancy’s children was a William Ratliff. On both James (b 1825) and George’s (b 1828) death certificates under father is written William Ratliff. Hulda Wyatt was the daughter of James and George’s sister, Elizabeth (b abt 1826). Hulda’s death certificate states her father as Joseph Bryant and her mother as Elizabeth Ratliff (b 1826). The fourth child of Nancy Venters was John (b 1823), who died in the Civil War in 1863 and does not have the ordinary death certificate with parents’ names on it, but I have seen nothing to indicate that he was not of the same parentage as his sister and two brothers.

Other information pertaining to the issues:
       Jonah May found “four William Ratliffs married in Floyd Co KY between 1813-1859 and nine married in Pike Co KY between 1836-1861. In the 1850 Pike co census, there are five William Ratfills, three of them old enough to have fathered the Venters children.” So there are many “William Ratliff” potentials for fatherhood of our four siblings. Jonah also looked for Venters/Ratliff marriages in either Pike or Floyd Co KY and could find none. He has marriage records for both counties for over 100 years.

My conclusion from the 1850 census records alone, is that there are definitely TWO Nancy’s. Our Nancy Venters who later married James Bryant and a totally different person, Nancy Crum who was NOT the mother of these four siblings: John, James, Elizabeth and George.

Now it’s your turn – what are your reactions and comments about the material above. After taking time to review the information presented, please send an e-mail with your response. Thank you for your contribution at this plateau in our research.

Sally Neely
1 November 2002

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