The Battles Connection

The Shew-Battles-Keener Connection


The Shew Family

The Battles Family

The Keener Family
The Intertwinings
The Questions

Overview: There are three families from the area of Cherokee County, Alabama, who appear to intertwine over and over. Exactly what the connection is among them is difficult to discern from the available evidence and it would sure be nice to get help from others researching these lines.

THE SHEW FAMILY: Boston Shew was born around 1790, probably in Guilford County, North Carolina, married Elizabeth Brewer on September 18, 1817 in Wilkes County, NC, and died after the 1860 census and probably before the 1870 census, either in Cherokee County AL or Izard County AR. Elizabeth was born around 1790 in North Carolina and appears to have died after the November 1850 census but before the 1860 census, probably in Cherokee County AL. Boston and Elizabeth had at least three sons: Simon, born around 1821; Daniel, born around 1826; and John, born around 1833. They also had at least three daughters: Deborah Caroline, born around 1817, who married Lot Day; Mary, born around 1829, who married Lewis Day; and Elvira, born around 1830. It appears that all of the children were born in North Carolina.

Simon Shew married Sarah, probably in Cherokee County AL, around 1845-1846. They had eight known children, all born in AL (and probably in Cherokee County): Charlsey/Charlsie, born circa 1846; Emily, born circa 1847; Nancy, born circa 1849; John, born circa 1852; Elias Grogan (or Grogan Elias), born circa 1854; Adeline/Amanda, born circa 1855; Lucinda, born circa 1857 and Henry W., born circa 1859. Simon and Sarah lived at least through the 1880 census.

Daniel Shew married Margaret Battles, probably in Cherokee County AL, around 1848. They had three children: William W., born November 1849; Gilford C., born circa 1852; and Martha Louise, born February 1855 (possibly 1856). Daniel appears to have died after 1854 (when he bought land from the federal government) and before 1860 (he is not on the 1860 census and Margaret is listed as a widow thereafter). Margaret appears alone on the 1860 census with her three children and on the 1870 and 1880 censuses with her daughter Martha Louise and her family.

John Shew married Mary, probably in Cherokee County AL, around 1856. They had two children: a son, James L., born cir. 1857; and a daughter, Frances Eliza, born cir. 1859. John died before 1880; his widow remarried and she and her Shew children are shown in the household of her second husband, Barry (Crubs?) in Marion County AR on the 1880 census.

Both of the Day families also moved to Marion County AR; both Deborah Shew Day and Mary Shew Day are reportedly buried there in Marion County.

There is yet another Arkansas Shew link: on the 1860 federal census, Boston Shew himself was recorded in Izard County, AR, living with what appears to be a second family. The census listing shows Boston, at age 70, with Nancy Shew, age 33, born in GA, and a one-year-old boy, William B. Shew, born AR. It appears that there was another son born thereafter, Jefferson Davis Shew. It appears that both Boston and Nancy died between 1862 and 1870. Their two boys (“B. Shoe”, age 12, and “J.D. Shoe”, age eight) appeared in Cherokee County, AL, without either parent, on the 1870 census, living with the family of R.M. and Margaret Hale. The link to the Hales is unknown; they are on the same census page as the family of Boston’s oldest son Simon Shew and the family of William and Ann Jacobs Battles (see below).

THE BATTLES FAMILY: William Battles was born around 1790-1792 probably in Georgia and is believed to be the son of William Noel Battles, a Revolutionary War soldier who settled in St. Clair and Etowah Counties, AL. The younger William was married twice, first to Kiziah Wright in Oglethorpe County GA on December 12 1818 (note that William’s brother Samuel married Kiziah’s sister Nancy in Oglethorpe County on November 18 1805) and second to Ann Jacobs in St. Clair County AL on December 25, 1829. Interestingly, Kiziah petitioned for divorce from William in Blount County AL in February 1824 on the grounds that William was living with Ann Jacobs in Tennessee.

It is unknown whether William and Kiziah had any children, but there is good cause to believe they did not. In Kiziah’s petition for divorce from William, filed in 1824, she alleged that “for the last two years the said William Battles (having previously compelled your petitioner to leave him) hath lived and now is living in adultery with one Ann Jacobs with whom he has gone to the State of Tennessee”. That puts the beginning of William and Ann’s relationship back as early as 1822. Moreover, and more compellingly, Kiziah made no mention of children in the divorce petition. She claimed that she had been “reduced and compelled to apply to strangers & distant relatives for her sustenance” but made no mention of a need to support children. It is beyond imagination that, if Kiziah had children she needed to support, she would not have mentioned them in the divorce petition. Moreover, if she had had children with William that he had taken from her, it is again beyond imagination that she would not have petitioned to have them returned to her (they would have been “of tender years” at a time when the law presumed such children to be better off with their mothers) and to have support for them ordered as well.

In any event, William and Ann were shown with five children on the 1830 census: a boy age 5-10 (born 1820-25); a girl, age 5-10 (born 1820-25); a boy under the age of five (born 1825-30); and two girls under the age of five (born 1825-30). On the 1840 census, they were shown with six children, a boy 10-15 (born 1825-30); two boys ages 5-10 (born 1830-35); two boys under age 5 (born 1835-40) and a girl under age 5 (born 1835-40). On the 1850 census, William and Ann had seven children living at home: a boy Aserier (Azariah), age 20 (born 1830); Samanatha, age 18 (born 1832); Julia, age 16 (born 1834); William, age 14 (born 1836); Franklin, age 12 (born 1838); Lewis, 10 (born 1840); and a girl, Charlsey, age 8 (born 1842). While the names and ages do not match up perfectly from census to census, it appears that there are three children born before 1830 to be accounted for, and research shows three other persons named Battles in Cherokee County during the same time period: Margaret; Guilford; and George.

Margaret Battles was the wife of Daniel Shew. Her maiden name is reported in oral history from her granddaughter Eula (daughter of Margaret’s daughter Martha) to Eula’s daughter Opal to Opal’s children and grandchildren. Eula was clearly in a position to know her grandmother well: the census records show that Margaret Shew lived with her daughter Martha and her family for more than 10 years, from at least 1870 until at least 1880 and probably until Margaret’s death. Margaret’s date of birth is unclear; the census records wildly inconsistent (her age appears to have been reported as 38 in 1860, 1870 and 1880). In 1850, she was reported as 23 (birth year 1827).

Guilford Battles first appeared in the census in 1850, as “Tillford” Battles, a 21-year-old, born in AL, living with the family of Robert Mackey in Cherokee County. He married Anne Elizabeth Keener in Dekalb County in February 1854; Guilford, age 30, his wife and their three children were shown in Dekalb County AL with his wife’s family on the 1860 census. The family cannot be found in 1870; by 1880, Anna appeared as a widow in Cherokee County with her two younger children, living next to her oldest son. A birth year between 1828 and 1830 is likely for Guilford.

George W. Battles appears as a landholder in Cherokee County as early as 1847 but is not reported on any Cherokee County census. Assuming that he was of age by the time he filed his first land claim, George’s birth year would have to be as early as 1826.

THE KEENER FAMILY: Martin Keener was born March 7, 1798 in Lincoln Co., NC, and died August 22, 1871 in Etowah Co., AL. He married Sarey Martha “Patsy” Painter January 28, 1827 in Lincoln Co., NC. She was born August 31, 1807 in NC, and died in Etowah Co., AL. Their known children include Anne Elizabeth (or Elizabeth Anna), Susannah, Mary, Sarah, Martha, Jacob, Samuel, Thomas, Henry and Riley.

THE INTERTWININGS: The Battles, Keener and Shew families intertwine in many different ways over many years.

  • First, Daniel and Simon Shew were neighbors of the Battles’ in Cherokee County and owned land next to William, George W. and Guilford.
  • Second, Daniel Shew married Margaret Battles around 1848.
  • Third, Guilford Battles married Anne Elizabeth Keener in 1854.
  • Fourth, Henry Keener (a nephew of Anne Elizabeth and Guilford) married Adeline Shew, a daughter of Simon Shew, around 1877.
  • Fifth, members of the Shew, Keener and Battles families remained in the same neighborhood and often on the same census page through the 1880 census.
  • Sixth, the two young Shew boys from Arkansas ended up living with the Hale family on the 1870 census, George Battles married a Hale daughter, the Hales are related to the Mackeys at least by marriage, Guilford Battles lived with the Mackeys on the 1850 census — and they were all close neighbors at least from 1845 on in terms of land ownership as shown on this chart of land patents for a portion of Cherokee County, Township 10S, Range 8E.
  • Seventh, as early as 1860, members of the Shew and Battles families can also be found on the Izard County AR census (and moving back and forth between Izard County AR and Cherokee County AL thereafter).
  • After members of the Shew family moved to Texas, settling in the area of Paris (Lamar County), a least one member of the Battles family can be found with them on various census records. In 1930 Thomas Battles (presumably the son of Martin Battles and grandson of Guilford and Anne Keener Battles) is listed as a cousin in the household of Sidney W. Shew (son of Gilford Shew and grandson of Daniel and Margaret Battles Shew).

THE QUESTIONS: Key among the open questions is the parentage of Margaret, Guilford and George Battles. George Battles, born 1826 or earlier, Margaret Battles (Daniel Shew’s wife, born no earlier than 1827 and no later than 1832) and Guilford Battles, born around 1829, appear to be children of William Battles and, probably, of Ann Jacobs Battles, and probably before William and Ann were free to marry. Margaret named her first son William (and there is no William in the Shew family), her second son Gilford and her daughter Martha. Guilford named his first son William Martin (his wife’s father’s name was Martin) and his daughter Martha. William Battles is presumed to be a son of William Noel Battles, and one of Margaret’s grandsons (Martha Louise’s third son) was named Noel. The links between George and the other two are not so strong, yet his physical location in Cherokee County at a time when no other Battles family was there and his proximity to William and Guilford strongly supports an inference that he was William’s son.

The real question is, who was the mother of George, Margaret and Guilford? As noted, William Battles was married twice, first to Kiziah Wright and second to Ann Jacobs. As early as 1824, Kiziah claimed William was cohabiting with Ann. George was born around 1824 or 1825. He certainly could be the boy born 1820-25 living with William and Ann in 1830. Given the weaker ties of George to Margaret and Guilford, he may be a child of William and Kiziah. Yet his birthplace of Tennessee suggests not — that is where (according to Kiziah’s divorce petition) William was living with Ann.

Margaret was born no earlier than 1827 and no later than 1832. Guilford was born around 1829 or 1830. Each of them could be one of the children otherwise missing from the William Battles family as of the 1830 census. Shoehorning the two of them in among William and Ann’s legitimate children is realistically possible only if both had a twin. The 1850 census shows seven children, ages 20 (boy), 18 (girl), 16 (girl), 14 (boy), 12 (boy), 10 (boy) and eight (girl). If a 1832 birthdate is correct, Margaret could have been a twin to the girl Simantha on the 1850 census. If the 1830 date is correct for Guilford, he could have been a twin to the 20-year-old boy on the 1850 census. (The boy’s name is very hard to decipher.) But the census reports do not support the idea of twins.

One major indicator that both Margaret and Guilford are Ann’s children is the fact that they lived close to William and Ann for more than 20 years — through the 1850 (Margaret and Guilford), 1860 (Margaret), 1870 (Margaret), and 1880 censuses (Margaret, Guilford’s widow and children). The whereabouts of Kiziah Wright Battles after her divorce in Blount County are unknown, but one would think at least a female child — and Margaret would have been very very young at the time of the divorce — would have stayed with her mother and not been found with her father thereafter.

Can anybody add to this puzzle? If you can, please e-mail me.

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