The branch from the family tree of Culvers relating to James Culver and his descendants presents some challenges. There is sufficient documentation to feel comfortable about the following facts:
James Culver married Anny Peters who by a previous marriage had two children, William and Margaret. James and Anny had Joseph, Hannah, and Sarah. James is buried in Dickinson Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. James’ will is recorded in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Will Book F, pp 349-50. It makes reference to all of the children. He probably died in 1803. His will was proved March 12, 1803.
One of the children, Joseph Culver, was born May 26, 1791, and died November 27, 1863. He first married Elizabeth Carey, September 1812.
Children of this marriage were: Nancy, Mary Ann, James Horace, and John Carey.
Following her death on August 11, 1831, he married Martha Dunmire, November 17, 1832. Children of second marriage were: Rebecca Ann, Joseph Franklin, William Wesley, and Jane.
Joseph and Elizabeth are buried in Trindle Springs Lutheran Cemetery, in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Martha is buried in Ashland Cemetery in Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
I am told that the 1886 history of Adams and Cumberland Counties states on page 137 that Joseph was a representative in the Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania in 1842. It also gives an account of his career in the same body.
Up to this point, the family history of this Culver line is fairly straightforward.
In 1978, a book was published containing letters from Joseph F. Culver to his wife, Mary Murphy Culver, during the years when he served in the Illinois 129th Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Entitled, “Your Affectionate Husband, J. F. Culver,” it was edited by Edwin C. Bearss, a widely respected historian within the National Park Service, and published by the Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries. The Introduction to the book makes reference to an apparently impressive genealogical study of the Culver and Murphy families done during the 1920’s and 1930’s by a daughter-in-law, Etta I’Dell Clarke Culver. According to her research,
“. . . the first in this line of Culvers to come from England, James, settled about 1765 in Pennsylvania, where his wife (surname of Peterson) bore him three children, including a son, Joseph, who was born in 1791 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Joseph Culver married Elizabeth Carey in 1812, and between 1813 and 1828 (?) the couple had eight children. Joseph’s second wife (nee Martha Dunmire, born in 1809 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania) bore him six children, the second being Joseph Franklin Culver, who was born on November 3, 1834, near Carlisle, Pennsylvania.”
Given Edwin Bearss reputation, one is left to wonder why he omitted any reference to the first marriage of Anny Peterson. That seems worth at least one line in this Culver genealogy. Further, it would have helped greatly if he might have identified James' wife more satisfactorily than simply mentioning that her surname was Peterson. He could have included her given name. He could have simply stated that his wife, Anny Peterson, had been married previously; that her two children by this first marriage retained their father's name; and that they are identified in James will as William and Margaret Peters. Further, it would have been very helpful to have included something about the ancestors of James and where they/he lived in England. Or could it be that Etta Culver’s genealogical treatise -- upon which Edwin Bearss was relying -- made no reference to any of this?
Aside from this, other research has turned up an unsourced reference to two sisters of James, Ann and Margaret.
All of this leads up to the big question: Does anyone know more about James Culver’s ancestral line and the research of Etta Culver?
(Some of this information is a reposting of what I had submitted in 2009.)