What Do We Know About Sarah Stanley's Ancestors?
Sarah (or Sally) Stanley Martin was born somewhere in Virginia in 1793 and died in Fremont County, Iowa, in 1863. According to the inscription on her tombstone, her exact dates were 22 February 1793 to 6 March 1863.
As mentioned in our discussion of
John's ancestors, our primary source of information about
earlier generations is the
letter of Elza Martin. However, the information it
provides about Sally's ancestry is even sketchier than that
given for John's. It tells the compelling story of how
Sally's mother, as a young girl, was the sole survivor of an
Indian attack on her family. But it gives no further
information about this woman — not even a first or last name or
the area in which she lived — which makes it hard to connect the
story to anything in the historical record. Similarly, the
letter refers to Sally's father only as "a man by the name of
Stanley." However, based on census records, land deeds,
and other legal documents, I believe her father to have been a
man named Isaac Stanley, who owned land adjacent to the property
where she and John settled after their marriage. This
relationship is supported particularly by the 1827 will of Isaac Stanley, which refers
to "my eldest daughter, Sarah Martin," and by the fact that
Sally named her first-born son Isaac.
Isaac Stanley (like "Edward Martin") is named in Charles M. Walker's History of Athens County as one of the earliest inhabitants of Alexander Township. W.E. Peters' map of the First Settlers of Alexander Township shows that Isaac owned three parcels of land in the township, one of which was adjacent to John Martin's property. In addition to Sally (born 1793), several other children are believed to have been born to Isaac and his first wife. These include John (born abt 1792), Archelaus (abt 1796), Isaac, Jr. (about 1799), Elizabeth (abt 1800), William (abt 1802), and Jane (abt 1804). One more child was born to Isaac and his second wife (the former Mrs. Elizabeth Martin): Hiram Stanley (born 1815). Hiram may have been a half-brother to both John Martin and Sally Stanley.
Census records show
that Isaac Stanley's four oldest children were all born in
Virginia and, hence, that probably is where Isaac and his
first wife both came from. Unfortunately, no records for
the State of Virginia have survived from either the 1790 or
1800 Federal Censuses, so we have to rely on other early
records to identify where Isaac had lived before moving to
I submit that Sally's parents most likely came from Berkeley County, VA (which is now part of West Virginia). THIS CONCLUSION DIFFERS FROM THOSE OF SEVERAL OTHER STANLEY FAMILY RESEARCHERS, which will be discussed below. A man named Isaac Stanley filed a will in Berkeley County in July 1794, and died sometime prior to the following December. Hence, he would not have been the man who later settled in Athens County, OH. But one of the heirs identified in his will was his son, Isaac Stanley, Jr., and I suggest that this younger man was Sally's father. According to the elder Isaac Stanley's will, Isaac Jr. had siblings named Joseph, John, Archelaus, Elizabeth, Mary, and Ann. The fact that Isaac Stanley of Athens County applied three of these same names to his own children (especially Archelaus, which is somewhat unusual) reinforces the idea that these two families are related.
The elder Isaac Stanley, in his will, granted property to his sons John and Joseph, but left his son Isaac only a monetary inheritance of 67 pounds, 10 shillings. Hence, Isaac would have had less incentive than John and Joseph to remain in Berkeley County. Nevertheless, he did stay a few years, as his name shows up on Berkeley County personal property tax lists that remain from 1794, 1795, and 1798. (It should be noted that Isaac's taxable personal property consisted of one horse in each of the first two years, and two horses in 1798. Slaves also would have counted as taxable property, and the schedules show that neither Isaac nor his mother nor any of his brothers owned slaves.) Isaac, however, is not listed on the 1799 tax list, most likely indicating that he had left the county. A year later, 1800, a man named Isaac Stanley shows up in a listing of adult males in Washington County, Ohio (in the part of that county that later became Athens County).
We have no record of who this Isaac Stanley married. If he IS Sally Stanley's father, he likely would have married sometime prior to 1792, (when Sally's brother John was born), and that marriage probably would have been in Berkeley County. A few 18th century marriage records are available for Berkeley County, but they are far from complete, and I have not found one for this Isaac. I have also found no report from Berkeley County that specifically mentions a 4-year old girl who escaped from a burning cabin, as described in Elza's letter. If Sally's mother had been — say — 18 to 22 when her first child was born, she would have been 4 years old about 1774–78. That span covers what was known as Dunmore's war and the early years of the American Revolution. There were many clashes between Indians and settlers along the western frontier during both of those conflicts, so it is believable that such an incident could have happened in Berkeley County or any adjacent area.
We do know that the senior Isaac Stanley was married to a woman named Mary, based on his will. Various on-line postings further identify her as Mary Rush, though none of these cite documentary evidence for this name. One of the most interesting of these is a site that traces the lineage of Kentucky Governor and Senator Augustus Owsley Stanley, who apparently was a great-great grandson of the elder Isaac Stanley.
Stanley family researchers had identified Sally's father as
the Isaac Stanley who married Elizabeth Brooks in Goochland
County, VA, in 1786. Others suggested he could have been
the Isaac Stanley who married Frances Nash in Pittsylvania
County, VA, in 1792. A few even submitted that the same
man had married both of those women and subsequently moved to
Athens County, Ohio. I reject all of these theories
based on the following points:
I am still seeking further information about Sally and her Stanley ancestors. If you can provide any further details, please contact me at the address shown in the image below: