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*Contributed by Donna Schultz.  Thank you, Donna!

Carol's Commentary - Adeline's Letter
(with the assistance of Jim Standifer)

Recently, this treasure of a letter written by Nancy "Adeline" Standifer Sherrod was contributed to this site by Donna Schultz. It offers a wonderful insight into the Standifer lines and may solve the mystery of James Israel/Martha "Patsy" Standifer marriage. The letter was probably written between 1895 and 1900 while Adeline was living in Colorado.

Adeline was the daughter of James Standifer, born 1784 in Virginia and Nancy Rogers, born 1797 near Knoxville, TN. They were married about 1816 in TN. She writes that little is known of her ancestors and from memory recalls some of her father’s brothers and sisters and a short family history.

Most intriguing is the 1784 birth date of her father, James Standifer. We know from William and Jemima Jones Standifer’s bible record that their son, James, was born September 10, 1784. To date, most family researchers have concluded that this James was Congressman James Israel Standifer who died August 20, 1837 in Kingston, Roane County, TN. Indeed, descendants of this James Israel Standifer have claimed that William and Jemima Jones were their grandparents, a fact not to be ignored. However, to others, this relationship has always been curious because James Israel married his cousin, Martha "Patsy" Standifer, born January 19, 1793. This Martha "Patsy" is also listed as one of William and Jemima Jones Standifer’s children in their bible record. If, in fact, James Israel was the son of William and Jemima, he would have married his sister, which is unlikely. However, marriages between first cousins were readily accepted at this time and two of William and Jemima’s other children married their first cousins.

Also curious is the fact that in historical records and county histories, James Israel Standifer is listed as being born April 19, 1779 but in some later day family histories his birth record has been changed to the 1784 date (probably to conform to the bible record of William and Jemima).

Adeline writes that her father, James, was born in 1784 in the "Blue Ridge of Virginia" and that he left there and went to Tennessee in 1802 and lived in the Sequatchie Valley. She said that here mother and father were married in Shasta (maybe Jasper) and that they moved to Alabama and in 1839 came to Texas.

In the 1900 Mesa Co. CO census ED 73, p. 12, Adeline indicated that she was born in Arkansas about 1829. From AR Tax Assessment Books we know that by 1829, several Standifers were residents of Crawford Co., AR. James, Isaac and Luke were slave owners, the others being Samuel, Elijah, Mary, Munroe and Marion. It appears that James (b. 1784) and brothers, Isaac and Samuel spent a few years in Arkansas before moving on to Texas. Their names do not appear on the 1840 census records. Munroe was probably James’son and Adeline’s brother. From other family history records, we know that William and Jemima's son, Luke, settled in Washington Co. AR, which is adjacent to Crawford Co., in 1828. He lived in the area for several years before moving to Lane Co. OR. Family history records also indicate that three of William and Jemima’s other sons (Isaac, Samuel, and Alfred) were living in Arkansas about this time. Their first cousins Abraham H. and Elijah (sons of Israel) were also in Arkansas at this time. Most of these families stayed in Arkansas only a few years. See AR Census Records. We know that Elijah moved back to Alabama and settled in Cherokee County, Isaac moved back to Alabama for a period before moving to Texas. James also spent some time in Alabama before moving to Texas, because his daughter, Louisa (or Eliza) is recorded in "Early Alabama Marriages" to have married James M. Gee in Alabama on November 25, 1837. This marriage record confirms another statement in Adeline’s letter.

Adeline speaks of Ike Standefer, "whose grandfather was a congressman from TN for years and his name was Billy or James". She states that the congressman (James Israel) was a first cousin to her father and his wife was her father’s sister (Martha "Patsy"). "Ike" could be Israel Brawly Standifer, son of Jesse and grandson of James Israel Standifer. Jesse moved his family to Missouri about the time that Israel Brawley was born in the mid 1840s.

Adeline writes that her father’s family all lived in Tenn. Although she could not recall all of her father’s siblings, she did recall four or five brothers and two sisters. She speaks of Aunt Betsy (Patsy?), Ike’s grandmother and Aunt Jemima (probably the wife of Luke). James, born 1784, had the following brothers, according to Adeline: Isaac, Alfred, Sam and Luke. Indeed we know from William and Jemima’s bible record that they had sons by those names. She says that Isaac moved to Texas in 1838, Sam went to OR in 1835/6. We are left to conclude that this James, born 1784 and died in 1843 was the son of William and Jemima Jones of Tennessee and that James Israel was the son of William’s brother, Israel. William’s daughter Martha "Patsy" married her first cousin, James Israel Standifer. Consequently, the descendants of this family who refer to William and Jemima Jones Standifer, as their grandparents would be correct and they would also be correct in stating that Israel and Susan Heard Standifer were their grandparents.

We know that James and Nancy Rogers Standifer had the following children: Monroe R.; Louisa M. "Eliza"; Bluford Preston, William Rufus, James Madison, Rebecca Ann, Jefferson, Caroline Elizabeth and Nancy Adeline Standifer (b. May 1830; d. January 256, 1901). Jefferson may very well be the same Jefferson whose biography is given on the web site. Adeline states that her brothers Rufus, Preston, Madison and Jefferson went to California in 1849/50.

Another letter posted on this site provides additional credibility to the statements in Adeline’s letter. Judge Lemuel J. Standifer of Alabama, son of William H. Standifer and grandson of Israel Standifer, wrote in April 1864 (around 30 years prior to Adeline’s letter) that "My father’s cousins, James, Isaac and Samuel in their families went to Texas with their families in 1839. James had seven sons with him." (These cousins would be sons of William.) He also said that his father and two uncles, Israel and James, raised their families in Marion and Bledsoe County, TN (This would be William H., Israel, Jr, and James Israel). See Lemuel J. Standifer's letter.

The following sources support the April 19, 1779 birth date for James Israel Standifer and the January 19, 1783 birth date for Martha "Patsy" Standifer. Many of these can be found on this Website. Also you will find a copy of James Standifer (b. 1784) Will.

  1. A History of Bledsoe County, Tennessee 1807-1957 by Elizabeth Robbnett; 1957, p. 22: "James Standifer with his wife, Patsy Standifer, and William Standifer, a child of five years, came to Sequatchie Valley in 1806 from Virginia. James Standifer, born 1779, and Patsy, born 1783, were the parents of six children."
  2. Compendium of Local Biography – Sequatchie County, TN; pub. 1898, p. 21: "James Standefer, grandfather of Alfred K. Standefer, born April 19, 1799, and his wife Patsy Standefer was born January 19, 1783." This biography was written when Alfred was still living. See Alfred K. Standefer's biography.
  3. Biographical Sketches of the Cumberland Region of Tennessee, Part II, Memoirs & Biographical Records originally printed 1898; reprinted in 1970, p. 468: "James Standefer born April 19, 1779."See Alfred K. Standefer's biography.
  4. Sequatchie County by Henry R. Camp, Robert B. Jones, Editor; p. 19: "One of these men was James Standifer, an early settler and leader of Bledsoe County where he served on the first county court at "Old Madison" and was one of the three county commissioners. Standifer, born April 19, 1779, lived in the community of Mount Airy, which is now in Sequatchie County."  See TN Quarterlies & Books
  5. Sequatchie, A Story of the Southern Cumberlands by J. Leonard Raulston and James W. Livingood; pub. 1974, p. 252: "Another early member of the family who settled in the region was James Standifer, born April 19, 1779…. was elected as a Whig to the 18th Congress and served from March 4, 1823 to 1825." See TN Quarterlies & Books
  6. Lamb and Allied Families of the Sequatchie Valley by James L. Mohon, Gateway Press, Inc. Baltimore, MD 1996, p. 414: James Standifer, born 19 Apr 1779 in VA.
  7. Sequatchie Families by James Douthart, p. 97: "James was born 19 Apr 1779 probably in Virginia and married a woman named Pasty born 19 Jan 1783."  See TN Quarterlies & Books
  8. In the 1830 Bledsoe County, TN Census, James Israel Standifer reported his age as over 50 and Patsy’s age as between 40 and 50. By reporting this age, he said that he was born prior to 1780 and Patsy was born between 1780 and 1790. TN Census Records
  9. George Sprouse, Dunlap researcher and contributor to this site, reports that James Israel was born 19 Apr 1779 in Henry County, VA.
  10. J. P. Standifer, an attorney and Standifer researcher in the 1960s reported that James Israel was born 19 Apr 1779.

Sources which indicate that William and Jemima Standifer had a son named James who was born in 1784: (William and Jemima were married 24 Jun 1779 in Henry Co VA)

  1. William Standifer’s Bible Record.
  2. Alfred Standifer’s Bible Record

Sources which support the 1784 birth date for James Israel Standifer:

  1. Standefer, Standifer, Standiford…A Family History and Genealogy Harry Standefer (Bible date for James Israel Standifer).
  2. He Stands Ever …..The Standefer Family by Ruby L. Ledbetter, p. 76 Children of William and Jemima Jones…James Israel Standefer, born September 10, 1784 (Bible date)
  3. Standefer Family Records compiled by Mary Jewel (Burton) Standefer. Lists the children of William and Jemima Jones from the bible record…James born September 10, 1784…U. S. Congressman from Tennessee.

Sources which provide other dates for the birth of James Israel Standifer:

  1. Biographical Directory of Tennessee General Assembly, Vol. I, 1796-1861, Nashville, TN 1975: Standifer, James (1776-1837) (Note: this is the only place that a 1776 birth date was found.) See Biography - James I. Standifer
  2. Steven D. Byas, who authored a biography of James Israel Standifer and contributor to this site, reported that James was born "most likely in1782."  See Biography - James I. Standifer

 Sources which provide Israel and Susannah Heard Standifer had a son named James:

    1. Israel Standifer's Will of 1826 - Madison County, AL

Please share your thoughts regarding this new information. I will post them here!

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