Monday, February 1, 2010

A Genealogy of the Broady, Harris, Napper, Thacker and Trent Families

“Driving a Ford Pinto and equipped with a thermos of water, some snacks, overnight bag, camera, tape recorder, paper and pencils; I began numerous trips into 14 counties in Ohio.” These are Madalene Jones Norris’s words describing her research for her maternal side of the family tree.

In 1985, she published her book, “A Genealogy of the Broady, Harris, Napper, Thacker and Trent Families.” Sourced and well documented, Ms. Norris’s book is valuable to those of us who are researching the Dorton, Napper and Thacker families.

She visited courthouses, libraries, health departments, newspaper offices, and cemeteries in Champaign, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Highland, Jackson, Madison, Miami, Montgomery, Pickaway, Pike, Ross,and Vinton Counties in Ohio. From January 3, 1981 through May 8, 1985, Mrs. Norris conducted 85 personal interviews. One of the most important of these was the one done on August 30, 1983 with Elizabeth Dorton of Chillicothe, Ohio. Lizzie recounted for Madalene the information given to her by her father, Beverly Dorton.

Beverly was the son of James Dorton and Virginia Napper. His grandparents were Malachi Dorton and Mahala Thacker.

Lizzie told Madalene that Mahala had seven girls and four boys. They included:

“My grandmother, Virginia Napper, who married James Dorton.
Patsy Napper
Ann Napper
Nancy Napper
Lucy Napper
Polly Napper
Peachie Napper
Wed Napper
Levi Napper
Pete Napper
Dick Napper

Though unable to document information for all 11 of the Napper siblings, Mrs. Norris has extensive information on most of them. As important, it gives researchers a framework for this family. Considering that this research was conducted pre Internet era, the depth of information is extraordinary.

The book has been filmed by the Family Search Library. The catalog lists the film as: FHL US/CAN Film 1597896 Item 1.

Note: Madalene Jones Norris is the great great granddaugher of Wetherfoot Napper and Mildred Jane Thacker. She is the researcher referred to in my Desktop Genealogist Unplugged post, Because the Boat Rocked.

How I am related to the Thacker Clan or Surprise! You Have In-Laws

My grandfather was adopted and his name changed when he was twelve years old, or so the story goes. I haven’t found proof of his adoption (but that can sometimes be a little tricky), so I can’t attest to the veracity of the entire story. However, what I do know is that sometime in the 1950’s two women showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep, looking for my grandfather.

Now understand, grandma and grandpa had not lived together at that point for close to two decades, so it doesn’t take much imagination to picture my grandmother, the soul of pragmatic dispositions, and her unfettered shock. God, I would have loved to seen her face.

The women turned out to be Grandpa’s sisters, Lucille Smathers Foit and Nellie Smathers Weaver. They had gone to the police station and asked about Grandfather, using, I would like to point out, Grandpa’s adopted name. Since Grandpa had “run away from home” sometime in the mid 1930’s and left Clyde Ohio forever, (and in point of fact had died of a burst appendix January 30, 1945) Lucille and Nellie’s quest had been doomed from the start.

The police chief of Clyde, Ohio, however, wishing to help, gave them the address for the only person in town with the correct last name - my grandmother. Grandmother, always a quick study and you’ve got to admit under the circumstances, a very gracious lady, made short work of depositing the two sisters at the home of her and grandpa’s only son, who was living at the time in Fremont, Ohio.

So, that is how my family came to find out that my grandfather’s original name was Walter Smathers. My parents, who were just as shocked as grandma, had a nice chat with the “new” relatives. Lucille and Nellie made a special fuss over their newly found nephew, and Daddy found out that when his father and the girls had been very young, their mother had died. Lucille, who was six, was fostered out to a family who apparently used her like a servant. Nellie was sent to live with her maternal grandfather and his second wife. Grandpa and his younger brother were taken by their father to Northern Ohio. The father, Elmore Smathers, promised the girls he would be back to get them but he never came. It was the last time the sisters had seen my grandfather. He was three.

It would have been too much to hope that somebody would have thought to ask how they knew to search in Clyde, Ohio or how sisters Lucille and Nellie knew which name to ask for at the police station. However, we now had access to the most important fact - Grandpa had been born in Athens County to Elmore Smathers and Lizzie Cope Smathers.

All of this is by way of telling you how I am related to the Thacker clan. Lizzie, or Elizabeth, was the daughter of George Cope and Francis Thacker Cope. Fanny, as Francis was called, was the daughter of Clarinda Thacker. Clarinda, who would later marry Enos Marcum, had two children out of wedlock before the marriage. The younger of the two, was Fanny.

Clarinda was the daughter of Nimrod Nicholas Thacker and Francis J. Thacker. It is believed that Nimrod was the son of David Thacker and Sally Lemay Thacker. (A court case naming Nicholas and David in 1858 as co-defendants and the fact that Sally Thacker was baptized at the home of Nicholas and Francis in 1868 point to this.)

Sally was the daughter of John Lemay and Annis Branham Lemay of Louisa County, Virginia.

Annis was the daughter of Benjamin Branham and Francis Gibson. This family is documented in Paul Heinegg's, Free African Americans of North Carolina and Virginia. Francis Gibson was the daughter of Gilbert Gibson of Louisa County, Va, and this family is also documented in the book.

So there you have it. How I tie into the Thacker family tree.

(I know, you want to know who David Thacker's parents were - well, me too. All I can tell you is that a deed record in Louisa County indicates that his mother was one Mary Dalton. This may or may not be Mary Branham, sister of Annis Branham, who married John Dalton. Most of the children in the deed are listed as Daltons. David and Robert are the only two listed as Thacker. Any speculation is welcomed on this point.)

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