It has been widely reported that Francis Anson's second wife was Susan (Parsons) Nichols. I have seen the claim reported in a place as obscure as _Anson Newsletter_ no. 19 (Aug. 1990): 22. The placement seems to be accurate. Francis and Susan were married in the early to mid-1830s. Francis appears in the 1830 census, Pike Co., Mo., page 230, line 3. The household appears to contain 2 males, age 10-14; 1 male, age 40-49; 1 female, age 5-9; 1 female, age 70-79; and no woman of an age to be Francis's wife.
The first known child of Francis and Susan was a son Joseph, who is designated on his tombstone as "Son of F. & S. Anson"; he died 10 August 1852, in the 19th year of his age. For a long time my sole authority for this was Samuel Hensen, "Anson Cemetery," _Gone but Not Forgotten_, ed. William L. Douglas, 9 vols. (Troy, Mo., n. d.), 2:3-4, at 3, but now you can see a photograph here:
Three others of their children lived until after 1910, when statewide registration of death certificates began in Missouri. Two of them name "Susan Parson" as their mother. The death certificates of Nathaniel Anson, 1923; Melvina Pennington, 1918; and Susan Slater, 1912, may be viewed online at
Susan Slater is the outlier; her death certificate names her mother as "Hosse." But the Hoss family was related to Francis, not his wife; Michael Hoss of Logan County, Kentucky, who died in 1824, was his stepfather, and Michael's widow, Catherine, was Francis's mother by a previous marriage. Michael and Catherine had four known children, who were heirs of Catherine's body and thus half-siblings of Francis. Logan Co., Ky., Circuit Court Records, Equity Cases 19-355 and 25-606, Logan County Archives, Russellville, Ky.
There is one other Missouri death certificate of interest, for a child of Susan Parsons by Solomon Nichols: Sara A. Evans, 1916. Sara was born in 1830, before any of the known children of Francis Anson by his second wife. Finally, the marriage of Susanna Parsons to Solomon Nichols in March 1822 is recorded in Virginia: Kathleen Booth Williams, _Marriages of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, 1806-1830_ (Danville, Va., 1965), 113.
It has been reported further that Susan was the daughter of Joseph (Jr.) and Sarah (Adams) Parsons of Pittsylvania County, who married in 1791. "Curtis and Barb Hough Family Tree" directs attention to a court proceeding that is cited to Pittsylvania Court Order Volume 22, p. 284, September Court 1821.
This document begins at the cited volume and page in Pittsylvania County Records, microfilm reel 54, Library of Virginia, Richmond [LVA]. The date is also correct, but otherwise the Houghs' transcript is somewhat garbled. My interpretation follows:
"[p. 284] Shelton &c to Parsons &c ch[ancer]y_ This cause by consent this d[ay?] came on to be heard on the Bill & answers and was argued by counsel On consideration whereof it is decreed & Ordered that Richard Jones, Thomas B. Jones and David Shelton are hereby app[ointe]d Comm[issioner]s. for that purpose, do assign to Sar[ah] [p. 285] Parsons the Widow of Joseph Parsons dec[ease]d One third part of the real [interlined: Est] and [interlined 1/3] of [interlined: the] personal Est of said decd and [this word struck] in her hands unmolested to hold as her dower therein _ and that the said Comms. do sell the balance of the personal Est and also the land of which the said Jos. Parsons died seized _ containing 96 acr lying on little cherry stone creek in this county subject to the dower of the said Sarah Parsons the widow On a credit of 14 months taking bonds payable to Daniel Shelton, Abner Harrison, Meredith Parsons, Lucy Parsons, Susan Parsons, and Milly Parsons each for One twelfth part of the purchase money of [this word struck] and that they take another bond payable to themselves for the benefit of the infant children of said Jos. Parson decd Viz Welcome, Nathan, Absalom, Seluda, Bird and Elizabeth Parsons for the remaining 6/12th, of the sd. purchase money & rept &c And the infant heirs &c of sd decd are allowed 6 months after the respectively arrive at full age to set aside the said decree on good cause shown."
This record shows that Joseph had a daughter of the correct name who, by March 1822, had already reached an age at which she could give consent to her own marriage bond. This already disposed me favorably toward the claim, but subsequent Pittsylvania County records prove it beyond a doubt. A further order was issued at March Court 1822 to the same heirs, with the addition of "Solomon Nichols and Susan his wife" in place of Susan Parsons, and "Richd. Jones who is hereby apptd. commr. on behalf of Welcome, Nathan, Absalom, Seluda, Bird and Elizabeth Parsons infant children of said [this word struck] Jos. Parsons decd. and Vaden Washington Parsons the infant child of Lucy Parsons decd. the daughter of said Joseph decd." Pittsylvania County Court Records (Orders), 24:79, reel 55, LVA.
The heirs of Joseph Parsons did ultimately sell his land as the court in chancery had ordered at September term 1821. The resulting deed begins as follows: "This Indenture made and entered into upon this 2[_] day of February 1823. Between Daniel Shelton and Nelly his wife Abner Harrison and Letty his wife. Meredith Parsons. Milly Parso[ns] Solaman Nichols and Susan his wife and Richard Jones all of the County of Pittsylvania of one part and Thomas B Jones of th[e] county aforesaid of the other part. Whereas in a suit lately depending the County Court of Pittsylvania, between Daniel Sh[el]ton and Nelly his wife: Abner Harrison and Letty his wife comp[lainants] and Sarah Parsons widow and relict of Joseph Parsons decd. and Meredith Parsons. Lucy Parsons. Susan Parson and Milly Parsons of full age and Welcome, Absalom, Seluda. Bird and Elizabeth Parsons infants by John Parsons their Guardian def[endan]ts in chancery on the 18" day of September 1821 It was amongst other things decr[eed] and ordered that Certain Commissioners in the said decree named and who were appointed for that purpose should make sale of a tract of Land in the Bill and said decree mentioned." Pittsylvania County Deeds, 25:258-60, quoted from 258, reel 12, LVA. The deed goes on to mention the other order as well.
Now that Susan's parentage has been established, the next step is to attempt an identification of Joseph. Once again, Curtis and Barb Hough have a proposal: that Joseph was the son of Joseph (Sr.) and Margaret (Griffith) Parsons, and a grandson of Richard and Lydia (Briggs) Parsons, all of Pittsylvania County. That Joseph Jr. should be a grandson of Richard seems logical enough, given the dates of Joseph Jr.'s marriage and of Richard's will and probate. But I have not found a single document necessitating the conclusion that Joseph Sr., among Richard's sons, was the father of Joseph Jr. The rationale usually given for assigning sons to Joseph Sr. is that he made lifetime grants of land to them of his land on Little Cherrystone Creek. The Houghs place Samuel, David, Benjamin, and John (Jr.) as sons of Joseph Sr. on that basis. Pittsylvania County Deeds, 12:349-52, 356, reel 6, LVA. One might as well make a similar claim for Thomas Parsons, to whom Joseph Sr. made a deed in 1807: Pittsylvania County Deeds 15:354, reel 8, LVA. The Houghs have not advanced this argument, but others do.
Joseph Sr., however, made no recorded grant in favor of Joseph Jr., and neither did any other man of this surname in Pittsylvania County. The will of Joseph Sr., which the Houghs transcribe from Court Records (Orders), 31:233, names none of his children except his son John, though it is suggested that there were others. It could be that the parentage of Joseph Jr. is provable by indirect evidence, such as succession to land formerly held by Joseph Sr. on Little Cherrystone Creek or attests to marriage bonds. Certainly it is helpful to observe that John Parsons Jr. served as the guardian of Nathan Parsons, "Orph[an]" of Joseph Jr. Pittsylvania County Court Records (Orders), 24:127, reel 55, LVA. Otherwise, I have not had time yet to assay the evidence from these sources.
Austin W. Spencer