A Family’s Unknown Tale from a Document

Never think there is by no means nothing new that can be learned about our ancestors, they can literally be full of surprises. Bits and pieces about events can spring toward in the most unusual places.  With the 21st century Internet technology, finding some of those previously unknown occurrences can become easier.

A recent example was an 8 ½ inch X 7 ½ inch document from 1832 that was put up for auction on the Internet site of eBay. The seller was a long-time collector and dealer of autographs, documents, photos and prints especially from the 19th century. He had up for auction an 1832 document he had found at some antique store or flea market which was a legal document for the constable of Frederick County, Maryland to apprehend a woman named Henrietta C. Hays and have her appear before the Justice of Peace, Wilson Hays by June 1, 1832.

The hand-written document was easy to read and also stated that Henrietta was the single mother of an illegitimate male child who was born February 24, 1829. The person requesting that Henrietta be apprehended was a John P. Stottlemayer of Frederick County (note the middle initial should be ‘M”).

Just that much information alone could make for a good story.  If a descendant of Henrietta had been fortunate enough to have located this single document on eBay, it is possible new light could have been shed on her life.

One did not even need to win the item on eBay or own the document; just having it scanned on the site provided enough information.  Researching the U. S. Federal census records was a good beginning.  Seeing Henrietta might not have the same surname by 1850 when the census records had all members of a household listed another starting point was the name John Stottlemayer in Maryland.

Sure enough, in 1850 in Catoctin, Frederick Co., Maryland was a gentleman named John M. Stottlemayer, born about 1791 in Maryland and who was a farmer.  Who else was in the household, none other than Henrietta Stottlemayer, born about 1806 and her oldest child, John Mathias Stottlemayer, born in 1829 in Maryland.

Checking the Maryland Marriage Index for the 19th century showed John Magruder Stottlemayer and Henrietta Hays had married on October 10, 1832 in Washington County, MD, a neighboring county to Frederick. Seeing such an age difference it was found that John had been married earlier to Susanna Wolf, but she died around 1826.

Looking at the 1850 census, John and Henrietta some 18 years after their marriage had a total of six children, born between 1829 and 1843.  Looking then at the 1860 census, Henrietta and John along with their six children were still in the same household. Several of their sons would later enlist in the Union Army.

Henrietta became a widow on July 17, 1867 while the couple lived in Washington Co., her husband John dying at age 67. She spent the next six years living with her sons.  Henrietta died on April 27, 1873 in Frederick County.

Between her six children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren over the years there were many descendants.  Yet, it is possible very few ever knew how rocky a beginning this couple had between 1829 and 1832.

Henrietta became pregnant in 1828, was unmarried, then gives birth to a son in February 1829 and possibly went into hiding.  The father, John Stottlemayer (also spelled Stottlemyer) uses the court system to bring Henrietta to the Justice of the Peace in Frederick County by June 1832.  Any differences or problems must have been worked out because the couple was married by October of that year.

What appears even more fascinating was that the Justice of the Peace who signed the May 22, 1832 document was Wilson Hays, who turned out to be the older brother of Henrietta Hays.  Doing a little research of the Wilson Hays name on the public family trees submitted by other researchers showed the link, that Wilson and Henrietta were siblings. There was also a sister named Isabella Hays who married John’s younger brother, David Stottlemayer in 1825.

So check some of the online auction locations, there just might be some new insight to a family mystery hidden away.

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