Friday, May 31, 2013

A Cowan Hunch

After discovering DNA matches to two descendants of an Andrew Cowan who was born in Tennessee in 1812 and died in Benton County Arkansas in 1884. My autosomal DNA matched with descendants of two of his daughters, so I checked the Cowan DNA database, and the Cowan from my branch falls into the same Cowan category as a direct descendant of Andrew Cowan did. The DNA indicates they both descend from the Seven Brothers SuperGroup; their tests are listed quite closely together on the Cowan DNA site:

Kit number 11081 represents a descendant of Andrew born 1812; kit number 7384 represents Reggie, a grandson of William Andrew Cowan who was the brother of my John David Cowan. They were sons of an Andre P. Cowan who died between 1860 and 1870, and he appears to have been the son of an Andrew Cowan who died 1846 in Bradley County, Tennessee. It is unclear who Andrew Sr.'s father was, but it was very likely a James Cowan who resided in McMinn County at the same time as Andrew, and who may be the James Cowan, son of David Cowan mentioned in his 1811 Sevier County will, found here:,_TN,_1811

Reggie's DNA is a very close match to descendants of this David Cowan, and so it appears Andrew Cowan  b. 1812 may too be of David's line. I have since compiled a theoretical lineage for Andrew which may connect him to David.

No one seems to know Andrew b. 1812's parentage. I do believe I have at least found his brother, and probably his father. There are just too many coincidences for this to not be the case. Andrew was born in Tennessee on 5 Jun 1812, according to his headstone. He died 28 Nov 1884 in Benton County, Arkansas according to that same headstone. He married Matilda Driskell on 4 Feb 1836 in Macoupin County, Illinois. He promptly moved to Iowa, where his first son was born on 6 Dec 1836. Andrew is found in the 1840 Census in Jefferson County, Iowa Territory. He is found in the 1850 Census in Wapello County, Iowa. By 1860, he is in Putnam County, Missouri. On 11 Aug 1867 he married a Margaret Thornsberry. In 1870 he is found in Benton County, Arkansas, and in Madison County, Arkansas in 1880. He is buried in Benton County.

Now this could be purely coincidence, but the coincidences are too many for my taste. There is a David Cowan who was born about 1815 in Kentucky who I believe is Andrew's brother. He married a Martha Chastain on 5 Jun 1834 in Morgan County, Illinois. Morgan County is adjacent to Macoupin County where Andrew is married in 1836. In 1840, David is found in Jefferson County, Iowa Territory, one page away from Andrew. In 1850, David is still in Jefferson County while Andrew is in adjacent Wapello County. By 1860, David had also moved to Missouri, where he is found in Nodway County, which is 3 counties west of Putnam County. David has not been located for the 1870 Census, most likely because he appears to have been in Indian Territory; the 1880 Census indicates his daughter Maud who was born 1871 was born in Cherokee Territory. But by 1880, David is in Carroll County, Arkansas--which is adjacent both to Madison County where Andrew was residing at this time, and to Benton County where Andrew is buried.

Now that is a whole lot of coincidences to me for these two to not be brothers. They were married in adjacent counties, in the same county in 1840, and in adjacent counties in 1850 and 1880. They followed each other from state-to-state. Obviously, this is all speculation, but how many coincidences can there be until it appears to be true?

So to find Andrew's parentage, I started from the beginning. There were four Cowan households in counties adjacent to Macoupin in 1830, and only two of those contained sons in the 15-19 age range: William Cowan in Sangamon County, and Hugh Cowan in Morgan County. Hugh is almost certainly David's father, if not Andrew's. David named a son Hugh, David was married in Morgan County, and there are three Hugh Cowan's in the 1820 Census in Kentucky. The one living in North Middletown in Bourbon County has two sons under 10; the one in Nicholas County has one and the second one in Bourbon County has none. Now the biggest problem with the theory of Andrew and David being brothers is found on the 1880 Census; Andrew claims both his parents were born in Tennessee, while David claims both his parents were born in Ireland. Obviously, Census records are not considered  a perfect source for birthplaces and parents' birthplaces, but this point should be considered.

Now is Hugh was the father of Andrew, that would place him in Tennessee in or around 1812 when Andrew was born. As it would have it, the aforementioned will of David Cowan, written in 1811, mentions his having a son named Hugh three times. Could this be the same Hugh? Maybe so, this is purely speculative, but it certainly seems possible.

My purpose for posting this blog is my hoping that a researcher of either Andrew's or David's families might happen upon this, contact me, and provide me with any more information that may support or detract from this theory. I welcome any contact at all on the subject. My Cowan family remains one of my two largest brick walls, and I am always looking to shorten the gap between my Andrew who died 1846 in Bradley County, and David of the 1811 will.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Children of John Christian Barnhardt & Elizabeth Berringer of Cabarrus County, NC & the Parentage of Barbary Barnhardt, wife of Jacob Moose

The commonly listed parentage for Barbary [as spelled on her headstone, but typically spelled Barbara in Moose family trees] in most Moose and Barnhardt family trees, including my own, has bothered me for some  time. They are frequently listed (as dozens of trees on will attest) as John Christian Barnhardt and Mary Elizabeth Barringer. My primary issue with this assertion is that John and Mary were almost certainly too old to be Barbary's parents. John was born in 1719 and Mary in 1724, according to their memorial headstones in Cabarrus County, North Carolina and according to all family records. Barbary's headstone clearly puts her year of birth as 1784, at which time Mary would have been 60 years old, far past the time when most healthy women are able to bear children. [Women over 55 are very unlikely to give birth, and the list of those who have is very short.] John and Mary's last child, as best as we know, was born about 1862, 22 years before Barbary's birth. (That was the year of birth for Sophia Barnhardt). Based on this, I find it extremely unlikely, if not impossible, that Barbary could be the daughter of John Christian and Mary Barnhardt, begging the question, who is?

Based on geographic proximity and John Christian's progeny being the only Barnhardt family in the Cabarrus County region, it is fair to assume based on her 1784 birth year that Barbary was almost certainly a granddaughter of John Christian. But through which son? I am going to look at each known son individually with as much information on them as I can find to come up with the most logical conclusion. According to the records of the Coldwater Reformed Church in Cabarrus County, John Christian was "buried at Coldwater Aug 11, 1799 Christian Bernhard, born in St. Johannes in the Palatinate April 5, 1719. He married Elizabeth Barringer, lived with her in marriage 49 years, begot 10 children, whom 5 are still living; lived to see the birth of 28 grandchildren of whom 5 so far have died. He died August 10, 1799 after a protracted illness and attained an age of 80 years, 4 months, and 5 days."

This clearly states he had 10 children, though most trees I have found for him list only seven: Daughters Sophia, Ann Elizabeth, Christiana, and Susan/Susanna, and sons George, John Matthias, Christian, and Matthias Alexander. However, Matthias Alexander was actually John Christian's great grandson. The reason for the confusion stems from him being the son of John Christian Barnhardt, son of John Matthias, son of the first John Christian. A biographical sketch on Matthias Alexander and his descendants can be found here: This leaves three children of John Christian Barnhardt unaccounted for.

We will first look at George Barnhardt, who was born in December of 1760 according to his Revolutionary War Pension application. While he would be old enough to be Barbary's father, his only known marriage was to Mary Mitchell, and that marriage occurred in "late 1789 or early 1790" according to an affidavit filed by their children. (Source: So unless George had an as-yet-undiscovered previous marriage prior to Mary Mitchell, he is most likely not Barbary's father.

The next son to look at is John Matthias Barnhardt. He was born 6 Apr 1752, so he was old enough to have been Barbary's father. However, the only known marriage for him was to Anne Margaret Bushart on 24 May 1785, a year after Barbary's birth, so again, unless John had a previous marriage prior to Anne Margart, it is unlikely he is Barbary's father. It is, however, slightly more likely that he would have had a previous marriage than for George to as by the time of his marriage to Anne Margaret, John was 33 years old, leaving plenty of time prior to that when he could have married and fathered other children.

Next up is Christian Barnhardt. Christian married a Nancy Suther. I have a found a few lists of children for him on (listing Ann Elizabeth, John, Catherine, Margaret, Mary, and Rachel as his children), but little information on him for the most part. He has 2 10-15 year old daughters in his household in 1800, but Barbary would have been 16 by 1800. His 1818 probate records indicate he has children, but does not specify their names, only specifying his wife, Nancy Barnhardt. It is possible that one of the 10-15 year old's is Barbary, but it does not seem likely given that based on family trees, his daughters appear to be accounted for.

These are the only sons I have found listed for John Christian Barnhardt, but as previously asserted, there are at least 3 children we do not know of, and perhaps more. Though the primary purpose of this post is to assert the parentage of Barbary Barnhardt, I do want to take this time to point out that I have found little-to-no-evidence proving the names of any of John Christian's daughters. I take particular issue with "Christiana", whose husband Jacob Derryberry appears to have had no connection to Cabarrus County whatsoever, instead being connected to Burke County. I have found no documentation that Jacob Derryberry's wife was a Barnhardt at all, nor that John Christian had a daughter named Christiana.

I have found even less evidence to support the existence of the supposed Susan/Susanna Barnhardt. A few trees have her listed as the consort of a Phillip Bostian, but virtually no other information on her has been found. Similarly, there is virtually no evidence proving the existence of an Ann Elizabeth Barnhardt; I have not found any place that even lists a spouse for her, or any other pertinent information. For the last remaining daughter listed for John Christian Barnhardt, Sophia, there is significant documentation at least proving her existence and residence within Cabarrus County, but I still have found nothing to prove her being a Barnhardt. I am willing to continue attaching Sophia as a child of John Christian, but as of now, I don't believe I can attach Ann Elizabeth, Susan, or Christiana as children of John Christian Barnhardt without further documentation. As far as I am concerned, at least six and possibly seven of John Christian's children need to be identified.

I would like to next assert that I have yet to find proof that "John Matthias"'s first name was actually John. This would not be uncommon if it were, as "Johann" was a common first name among Germans who then went by their middle name. I once found a German family who had named all of their children Johann and Marie, i.e. John and Mary, but with all different middle names, which they would then go by as their primary names; Johann Frederick was Frederick, Johann Heinrich was Henry, Johann Gerhard was George, etc. However, I have yet to find documentation indicating that Matthias had a John before his name. The 1780 Reconstructed Census lists him simply as Matthias, as do the 1790, 1800, and 1810 Censuses. When he is listed as a witness for a deed or a will, he is listed simply as Matthias. I think the name "John" being applied to him may be rooted in the fact that his grandson was named John Matthias and people just automatically assumed the full name had been inherited, rather than just the middle name. (Similarly, I have an uncle named James Johnson Todd; his father's name was James Todd, and so for decades researchers named the father James Johnson Todd, even in published materials, assuming they shared a full name. As it turns out, more than a dozen records list him as James A. Todd, so the assumption was completely unfounded and led to dozens or more people having bad information in their records.) I have yet to find a document where his name is listed as John. If such a document exists, I would appreciate being pointed in its direction, but until then I will be listing him simply as Matthias.

After a few more days of researching, I believe I have found Barbery's father, and at the same time, I believe I have found a new son to list for John Christian Barnhardt. There is more evidence to support my former assertion than my latter, but I believe both stand on strong footing as well as they can with us lacking a will for John Christian or a will for Barbary's father.

A Charles Barnhardt is well-documented as having been a long-time resident of Cabarrus County; it appears he has been there as long as any other Barnhardt. However, for some reason I have not yet discovered, he is typically attached in family trees to Henry Barnhardt and Gertrude Swing of Guilford County, North Carolina, or to no parents at all. Why no one else has concluded that he could be one of the unknown children of John Christian Barnhardt is a mystery to me, but it's clear he fits at least circumstantially.

It was pointed out to me by another researcher that Charles was missing from the 1790 Census in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina where John Christian and his sons Christian, Matthias, and George, along with a Henry, were residing. They had concluded that he was the Charles Barnhart found in the 1790 Census in berk County, Pennsylvania, despite the fact that all of his identified grandchildren listed their respective Barnhardt parent's birthplace as North Carolina in the 1880 Census, including those whose parents were born prior to 1790.

Then by a happy accident, I found that Charles is indeed in the 1790 Census in Mecklenburg County, NC Census; his last name has been indexed on as "Barenheart", but when looking at the image it clearly says "Barnhart". So this clearly indicates that Charles was living in the portion of Mecklenburg which became Cabarrus, as were John Christian and his sons. He was a mere two pages from where John Christian and his sons were clustered, but it's difficult to really assess how closely anyone lived to one another in this Census as portions of it are written alphabetically rather than in order of household. The unknown Henry Barnhart is on page 4, while John Christian and sons are on 9 and Charles on 11; I have found no further record of this Henry, but it is possible he could be another of John Christian's unknown children, though there is no further evidence to prove it.

My logic for applying Barbary as a daughter of Charles and his wife, Anna Hagler (I have found no source for this name), starts with her marriage to Jacob Moose. Her security for this union was a "Chas. Barnhart". Whether this is Charles Sr. or Charles Jr. isn't necessarily relevant, as Charles Jr. is the son of Charles Sr. and therefore would have been Barbery's brother if it is not indeed her father. (Source: Though she died in 1839, Barbary's Moose in-laws remained close to the Barnhardt clan. Matthias Barnhardt was a witness to the will of Jacob Mussgnug, Barbary's father-in-law, and Charles Barnhardt Jr. and Julia Ann Barnhardt were the witnesses to the will of her mother-in-law, Barbara Bushart Moose.

Barbary also fits into the Census records for Charles Barnhardt Sr. I have found several lists online for his children which have that he had two unknown daughters, one born approximiately 1781 and one born approximately 1783. This doesn't make sense as Charles has only one daughter between the ages of 16 and 25 in the 1800 Census, and his 10-15 year old daughter would have been Anna Barnhardt, but it does mean he had one unaccounted for daughter whose age range fits Barbary's (born 1784). Lastly, Barbary is buried in St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church Cemetery, which is also where Charles Barnhardt Jr. and George Barnhardt, sons of Charles Sr., are interred.

Finally, according to records from the Cabarrus County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, in July 1828 the administrators of Charles's estate were named as his son, George Barnhardt, and none other than Jacob Moose. (

I have found less evidence connecting Charles to John Christian other than geographic proximity, but given the number of John Christian's unknown children, I have not found reason to detract from the probability that Charles was his son. Charles is in Cabarrus County in 1800 living next to his eldest sons, John and Jacob Barnhardt. A third supposed son, Phillip, is also in enumerated in Cabarrus that year. The other Barnhardt brothers are spread out a few pages away. In 1810, it is difficult to ascertain how far each of the Barnhardt brothers lived from one another as it appears some pages were done in alphabetical order, while others were not. There are also a high number of Barnhardt households in this census which have not been connected to one another; there are 14 Barnhardt heads of household in Cabarrus County in 1810, and only 10 in 1820. Three of those missing would be Christian Jr., Matthias, and Charles, who all died between 1810 and 1820. But in 1810, there is an extra Charles, a Paul, a "Stophel" [which may be Christopher], an unknown "Matthews" [which may be another Matthias], and a Nancy whose husband has not yet been determined.

Despite the holes in the Barnhardt research, I believe it is safe to attach Barbary as the daughter of Charles, and Charles as the son of John Christian. Unless new evidence comes to life that detracts from this position, this is how I will keep my records for now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Levi Lawson Moose & Levina Troutman

In my opinion, the best genealogical discoveries are often the ones you find when you weren't even looking for them. I have spent years looking for the precise date of death for Levina [sometimes spelled Lovina, Levinia, Lovinia, and Lavina] Troutman Moose, the widow of Levi Lawson Moose. I could not find record of her headstone anywhere, and though North Carolina had death records in the early 1900's, I could not find one for her. I contacted several researchers from the Cabarrus County area back in the RAOGK days, and all of them came up empty in their searches for Levina. I had completely given up hope of finding it until today, when I found it completely by accident.

While researching the Barnhardt family of Cabarrus County, I was looking at the North Carolina Estate Files collection on I was looking for the estate records of Barbary Barnhardt Moose when another name popped out at me: Lovina Moose (1906). I was floored. Suddenly, I had her year of death, and I hadn't even been looking for it! After looking through the estate files, I found out her son, Albert Henderson Moose, had actually sued the administrator of his mother's estate, A. Crowell, all the way to the North Carolina Supreme Court over a note on his mother's estate. One can find documentation on Moose v. Crowell fairly easily online; the records in various published court proceeding resources did not include Lovina's name, or else I would have found what I was looking for much earlier.

As I continued to dig, I found Crowell's Administrator Records in FamilySearch's North Carolina Probate Records collection which finally provided me with a precise date of death: 19 May 1906. I felt very accomplished because of this, and then happened upon another genealogical gem. I began looking through the probate records for her husband Levi Lawson Moose, and ended up finding the full names for all 5 of their sons. The record showed that their son Henry's middle name was actually Harmon and not Harrison as it has been listed in countless Moose family trees. I also found their son John W.'s middle name which I had never found and have not seen in any other trees; his middle name was Wylie. It confirmed the full names of the remaining sons as well, namely Lawson Jeremiah, Julius Monroe, and Albert Henderson.

I hope other Moose and Troutman researchers will come across this post and be able to add all this new-found information to their records. I guess it goes to show you should never give up ALL hope of finding that elusive piece of information.

Michael Downing and Mary Persinger of Virginia and Indiana

For years, there has been much speculation online regarding the identity of the wife of Michael Downing, a long-time soldier who served in the Indian Wars and even volunteered to fight in the War of 1812 as a man over the age of 40. Some have given up identifying Michael's wife, listing her simply as "Mrs. Downing". Others have gone with a seemingly made up name, Mary Anne Wells, which as it turns out has an element of truth behind it, but the name is still incorrect. After seeing the ideas posed by Ilene Kreider of Iowa, a descendant of Preston Downing of Cedar County, Iowa who will also be discussed in this post, I dug a little deeper and have come to agree with her conclusion that Michael's wife has seemingly been hiding under our noses this whole time.

On 26 Jun 1789, a Michael Downey/Dawney married a Mary Persinger in Botetourt County, Virginia. I believe this to be our Michael Downing for a number of reasons. But first, it is important to note that the marriage record gives a great clue for where the name "Mary Anne Wells" came from; the marriage record lists Mary as "Mary Persinger daughter of Nelly Wells". Clearly a past researcher came across this marriage record long ago and came to the same conclusion that Ilene and I have: That this was our Michael and his long-lost wife. However, where the name "Anne" came from is still a complete mystery, and the unknown researcher seems to have concluded that Mary was a Wells by birth who married a Persinger and then re-married to Michael Downing. However, the majority of widows who remarried would be listed as "Mrs.", so had Mary been a widow, she likely would have been "Mrs. Mary Persinger". I believe the more logical conclusion is that it was Mary's mother who re-married to a Wells after her Persinger husband died; later on, I will lay out the DNA evidence which supports Mary having been a Persinger by birth.

To be sure of Michael Downing's connection to the Persinger family, one does not have to look far. Almost all of the Persinger's in Virginia at this time (1780's-1790's) were descendants of one man: Jacob Persinger of Switzerland who died in Virginia about 1774, possibly in Greenbrier County. So all of the Persinger's in Botetourt County and later Alleghany County, Virginia were very closely related. You'll find the only Persinger's in the state in the 1780's and 1790's in these two counties. You'll see that a few then migrated to Kanawha County, Virginia [now West Virginia] by 1810, which is the place we first find Michael Downing without absolute certainty. Some of these Persinger's then went on to move to Washington County, Indiana along with the Downing's and the May family, who married into the Downing's twice [Brothers Reuben and Thomas May married Elizabeth and Margaret Downing, respectively. It is from Reuben and Elizabeth that I descend]. You'll then find that Michael's daughter Catherine married George Persinger, and Michael's likely-nephew, Preston Downing, married George Persinger's sister, Martha Persinger. You'll find the family living near Luke Persinger both in Kanawha and Washington counties, and he is an elder half-brother to George and Martha, all of who were children of John Persinger, who died about 1810/1811 in Kanawha County, [West] Virginia, before his family moved on to Washington County, Indiana.

I think it highly unlikely that the Downing's would move about the country and inter-marry with a family whom they were not well-connected. It was not uncommon in the least for cousins to marry cousins, so when Catherine Downing married George Persinger, I believe she was marrying her cousin. Whether they were 1st or 2nd cousins, I have not yet determined, but that is a discovery I hope is made soon. Given the Downing's migrational patterns with the Persinger's, and the multiple marriages between the families, I have concluded that Michael Downey who married Mary Persinger is indeed Michael Downing, and Mary Persinger is our long-lost wife. If anyone has a theory that they think bests this one, feel free to come forward, but I think the circumstantial evidence is significant.

Yet another piece of evidence seemingly confirming this connection to the Persinger family is in the form of several autosomal DNA matches. My DNA has matched five Persinger descendants so far. One of those matches is inconclusive, as I actually share two other biological connections with this person, so it's impossible to ascertain exactly which match or matches the test is picking up on. My other four matches are as follows:

1. Match with a descendant of Catherine Persinger, daughter of Luke, son of John, son of Christopher, son of Jacob
2. Match with a descendant of Elizabeth Persinger who married Henry Harmon; she was most likely the daughter of John Persinger, son of Christopher, son of Jacob
3. Match with descendant of William Reid Persinger, son of Jacob b. 1772, son of Christopher, son of Jacob
4. Match with descendant of Jacob Persinger, son of John, son of Christopher, son of Jacob

Clearly these four matches with Botetourt County Persinger's cannot be a coincidence; as my family does not intersect with any Persinger's at any other place in my tree, the logical conclusion is that I descend from Mary Persinger who married Michael Downing.

As far as the question "What  makes you think that Downey and Downing are the same name?" goes, I believe that an evolution toward the spelling "Downing" came over time, but that the name was still originally pronounced "Downey" hence the spelling. For evidence, you can see that Michael's last name is spelled "Downing" in the 1810 and 1820 Censuses, but in 1830, it is spelled "Downe" even though his son's name on the same census is "Downing"; the same happens with other Downing households in Washington County, Indiana in 1830 with the households of Preston, his mother, and the not-related-to-Michael Downing families of Abraham, Alanson, Erastus, and William [these Downing's were from New York]. You can see this interchangeability occur elsewhere as well; in 1820, John Downing of Dearborn County's name is spelled with the -ing, but then in 1830 he and his sons names are spelled "Downey". I believe this illustrates that the two spellings were interchangeable but still represented the same family, so while this is just a theory, the reasoning is sound.

Now the questions that remain are: Who was Mary Persinger's father? Who was her Wells step-father? And what became of Mary's mother, Nelly? I have not been able to answer any of these questions as of yet, but I have formulated a list of candidates for Mary's Wells step-father, and I have worked on narrowing down who her father could and could not be.

The identity of Mary's father has not yet been determined. Clearly it was a Persinger who predeceased her 1789 marriage, so while the above DNA evidence would point to John son of Jacob being her father, since he lived until about 1820, she most likely descends from one of Jacob's other sons. Mary was married in 1789, and assuming she was at least 15 years old at the time of the marriage, she was most likely born before 1774, which eliminates any of Jacob's known grandsons from contention as her father as only a couple of them would be old enough to father a child, and those that were were still living in 1789. It is possible an unknown grandson of Jacob was her father, perhaps an elder son of Christopher who was about the same age as John who married Nelly, fathered Mary, and then died at a fairly young age. This also seems conceivable given the number of connections the Downing's have to John's children; if Mary were their 1st cousin, their connections would make even more sense. The reasons I have not listed Mary as a child of Christopher or John as would seem logical is because they were both still living in 1789 and neither is known to have had a wife named Nelly.

Jacob Persinger Sr. apparently also had sons named Phillip and Abraham. It has been asserted by some Persinger researchers that the two were killed by Indians, perhaps even in separate incidents, but I have not seen proof of that, and I believe one of the two are most likely Mary's father, seeing as Christopher, Jacob, and obviously John were still living at the time of Mary's marriage. I am hoping perhaps a Persinger researcher will help me uncover this mystery in the near future.

In looking over Botetourt County tax lists, and the 1810 and 1820 Censuses, I have compiled a list of potential step-father's for Mary Persinger. One of these men were most likely the husband of Nelly Wells.

Bolded names are the men I consider prime candidates.

1785 Botetourt County Tax List [Source:] :
Wells, Jeremiah

1786 Botetourt County Tax List [Source:]:
Wells, Jeremiah
Wells, Richard

Note: A John WALLS, John WILLS, and William WILLS also appear on both of these tax lists, keeping open the possibility of multiple spellings or poor spellings of the name WELLS.

1790 Virginia Tax Lists/Replacement Census [Source:]:

Downey, Michael [King & Queen County] [No other Downey's in King & Queen, none in Botetourt; only Michael Downey/Downing in any of the tax lists. I don't believe this is "my" Michael, however, based on the below 1800 Replacement Census]
Wells, Abner [1789 - Botetourt]
Wells, Benjamin [1789 - Botetourt]
Wells, Jeremiah [1789 - Botetourt]
Wells, Moses [1789 - Botetourt]
Wells, Richard [1789 - Botetourt]

1794 Botetourt County Tax List [Source:]:
Wells, Jeremiah

1800 Virginia Tax Lists/Replacement Census [Source:]:
Downey, Michael (ESTATE) [1798 - King & Queen County] [This appears to allude to this Michael Downey being deceased, but I'm not certain that's what it means. A "Jarley" Downey also appears in the county.]
Wells, Jeremiah [1802 - Kanawha County] [Jacob & John "Parsenger" also appear in this 1802 list for Kanawha County. No other Persinger's are indexed. Jacob & John are also listed in the 1801 tax list for Kanawha, but Jeremiah is not:]

Note: No Downing's, Downey's, Persinger's, or Wells's are found in the 1796 Kanawha County tax list:]

1810 United States Census - Kanawha County, Virginia
Downing, Michael
Persinger, Jacob
Persinger, John
Persinger, Luke
Wells, Benjamin
Wells, James

Note: Jeremiah Wells is not present in Kanawha County for the 1810 Census, but Kanawha County marriage records show he married a Patsey Russell in Kanawha County in 1810. He is in Kanawha County in the 1820 Census. Source:

1820 United States Census - Washington County, Indiana
Downing, Michael
Persinger, Luke
Persinger, Katherine [Widow of John Persinger, Luke's father]
Wells, Benjamin
Wells, David
Wells, Richard
Wells, William
Wells, William

Without having been able to find much on them with online resources, I consider Jeremiah, Richard, and Benjamin Wells prime candidates for being Mary Persinger's step-father and husband of Nelly Wells. Discovering the identity of Mary's step-father will likely lead to the answer to my final question: What happened to Mary's mother, Nelly?

I will be sharing this post on a couple of Persinger family message boards, as well as e-mailing some Persinger researchers in hopes I can formulate a more solid theory regarding the identity of Mary Persinger's father. Or perhaps another Persinger researcher will happen across this post with a theory to share, which I would gladly welcome.