I am summarizing information on my 3G Grandmother, Permelia D. (Daniel ?) Wills much of which has been posted previously. Permelia was born c.1790s to James Wills, Jr. and his wife Elizabeth Warwick who lived on "the north branches of the south fork of Ruckers Run Creek" in Amherst Co., later Nelson Co, Va. The area is locally known as Freshwater Cove and is not far from the county seat of Lovingston. Both of her parental lines are well documented for a few generations back. She had one brother, Jefferson Wills. Permelia married James Smith in 1815. He was a son of Hillary Smith and Sally Owen.
In my early research, I easily traced my mother's line back to 2G Grandparents Nathaniel Hill Bibb and Behetheland Stevens of Nelson Co. The marriage record identifies her parents as "John Stevens and Permelia". Stumped in my attempt to further identify Permelia, I completed research on the very interesting line of John Stevens. Many years later, I disovered that Permelia had died in 1832 and, on her deathbed, called in two neighbors and requested that John Stevens live on her land, manage her negroes, and raise her children together. John Stevens was appointed guardian of children Behetheland T., Rodolphus W., and Sarah P. Wilson Peters was made guardian of son James. Also, at the time of her death, Permelia had a chancery suit pending against her husband James Smith. The suit was dismissed because of her death.
There was another daughter, Adeline, who married John Morris of New Jersey. She does not appear in the will so I assume she was the eldest and not in need of a formal legal guardian. I have not found the marriage record. The 1900 census identifies Adeline as being born in March 1817, married c.1832, and having borne ten children, four of whom survived at the time. The couple lived in Indiana for a time and later moved to Shelbyville, Ky. where they lived out their lives. John apparently died in the 1850s and Adeline died May 17, 1903. Both, along with other family members are buried in Grove Hill Cemetery in Shelbyville.
I am puzzled by the relationship with John Stevens. He was a single neighbor, did not marry until late in life, and was about ten years younger than Permelia. Permelia's daughter Behetheland Taliaferro Smith, my 2G Grandmother, was named in honor of John Stevens' own grandmother who was the matriarch of the Stevens clan who settled in the Lovingston, Va. area. In the 1842 will of John Griffin Stevens, father of John Stevens, he leaves legacies to these three children of Permelia and refers to them as his grandchildren. There was obviously bad blood between James and Permelia Smith but I have not been able to find any details of the suit or what may have become of either James Smith or his son James. There was plenty of family nearby and I wonder why some of them didnt raise the children. Were John Stevens and Permelia lovers? Did he father the three children left in his charge? Why the bequest in the will of John Griffin Stevens? More importantly, why didnt the other children object? Even if John Stevens was the biological father, the children would have been considered illegitimate.
Anyway, the three children raised by John Stevens gradually began to use his last name and the Smith name was lost in family history until that dark and stormy day that I got rained out on my job and decided to read through the unindexed court order books in Nelson Co. All three, plus Adeline, married, raised families, and left descendants so there should be plenty of people out there who may have an interest in this riddle. Plese let me hear from you if you do!