Monday, September 17, 2007

Digging Deep at the Buckingham Courthouse

There are secret documents hidden in the Buckingham Courthouse!

The photo to the left proves it. That crumbling document is a 139-year-old court record filed in a dusty drawer that I was allowed to examine one afternoon last spring. This record describes a Chancery Court case filed by the heirs of Abraham Maxey.

The secret to finding these jewels (they're not really secrets) is to ask - very politely - to see the "loose papers" in the courthouse basement. Loose papers are the court documents that were never bound into the formal, indexed books. My Courthouse angel who finally relented and brought me that dusty old file drawer is Brenda. God bless her. Each document in the drawer was tied with a tightly knotted string, like a shoelace, that I painstakingly picked apart. I doubt that anyone had opened the Maxey court record since it was filed in 1868. There's no explanation as to how it escaped the fire.

I was advised to try searching loose papers by Eric Grundset, the Librarian at the DAR and a long-time Buckingham researcher. I cornered him following his presentation at the National Genealogical Society's Conference last May and asked if he knew of any breakthroughs in Buckingham genealogy. Eric sighed and said he thought the well was dry. Then he suggested I try searching the loose papers at the Courthouse. Ah-ha!

I only managed to get through one file drawer that Brenda delivered to me, but I did find two interesting Stinson-related documents.

1. Maxey vs. Dobbs & wife, Bill in Chancery Feb 3, 1868, the document shown in the photo. The complaintants in this suit are: Nancy H. Maxey [the widow], E. Hill Maxey, Geo. W. Maxey, John A. Maxey, Judith W. Bransford, Sampson F. Maxey, Mary E. Maxey, and George R. Self & Amy his wife. The deceased is Abraham Maxey. The document refers to hearings dated at 1843. I have not yet transcribed the text, but will be happy to do so for anyone interested in Abraham Maxey's descendants.

2. Wm A. Stinson vs. America Stinson. Completed Feb 15th 1870. This is a lengthy document consisting of a report by a special commissioner of the court regarding documents destroyed by the fire, an affidavit outlining the case, and several exhibits, including an advertisement in the Richmond Whig newspaper. The document lists the heirs and spouses of a Hannah Stinson, a deceased widow. It’s a friendly suit where one groups of siblings sues for the right to sell property without the permission of other siblings who have moved out of state.

Heirs of Hannah Stinson, deceased: (According to the 1850 & 1860 census records Hannah was born about 1784/5. The court record doesn't state when Hannah died.)
1. William A. Stinson
2. James C. Stinson
3. Elizabeth Stinson Dunnavant
4. America Stinson (not in Virginia)
5. Virginia D Stinson Morrissett (not in Virginia)
6. John Stinson (deceased at time of filing)

John's children: Ann Elizabeth Stinson, James Stinson, Nancy Stinson
7. Elvira Stinson Baird (deceased at time of filing)

Elvira's children: James P. Baird, Samuel D. Baird, Elizabeth Baird Ryan

Does anyone know who Hannah Stinson was? Please leave a comment if you do. Click the comment link just below. (The comment link will have a number in front of it.)


Anonymous said...

This Hannah Stinson is a very interesting person. She appears in many Census records and was the mother of many descendants. She must have been widowed at a young age. It would really be interesting to find out who her husband was, her maiden name, and how she ties into Alexander Stinson. I bet she does. If so, all of her descendants are your cousins.

Cathy said...

Hi Kathy:

The info I have for Hannah Stinson was that she was the wife of James stinson (b. circa 1776) who was the son of Cary Stinson, Sr. This information comes from the document researched and compiled by Frances L. Stinson. According to my copy, it was last updated in May 1999.

Cathy said...


The information I have for Hannah Stinson lists her as the wife of James Stinson (b. circa 1776); he was the son of Cary Stinson, Jr. This information comes from the document researched and compiled by Frances L. Stinson. My copy was last updated by her in 1999.