Do you use ‘family trees’ in your genealogy research? While I try to not rely on family trees for my research, I do use them for guidance. When I first started my research, I would receive handwritten family group sheets in the mail. I would compare the information on those sheets with what I new about the family and decide whether they connected to my research or not.
Today, I often turn to the FamilySearch tree to see what the family structure may look like. Then I try to find records to prove (or disprove) the family structure. As I’ve moved into researching my family lines in early Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, I’m finding a lack of consensus about the family structure.
I believe one of my 4th great grandmothers is Hannah Barr [LCXJ-MWQ], wife of David Ralston [LCXJ-M7F] of Armstrong county, PA. While I’m just beginning my dive into Armstrong county PA records for my Ralston and McCormick lines, I believe that Hannah’s father is James Barr. Hannah’s profile on FamilySearch along with a WikiTree profile and many Ancestry trees show Hannah Barr as the daughter of James Barr and Martha Cunningham. Unfortunately, there is very little sourcing to support this relationship.
While researching deed records for David Ralston, I discovered a deed that refers to David Ralston as the son-in-law of James Barr and his wife Martha.
Armstrong County Pennsylvania
Deeds v. 3-4 1815-1823
Film 861225 DGS 8084147
page 222 (image 132 of 620)
James Barr & wife
This indenture made the eleventh day of September in the year one thousand eight hundred and seventeen
between James Barr and Martha his wife of the one part and David Ralston son in law to the said James
Barr of the other part all of Armstrong county. Whereas the said James Barr did in consideration of his
maintenance & keeping and that of his wife’s all the said below recited land to a certain James Steel and whereas the said James Steel
did in no manner whatever comply with his agreement but shortly after moved his family down the river Ohio Now this indenture
witnesse that that the said James Barr & Martha his wife for an in consideration of the sum of one dollar to them in hand paid by the
said David Ralston and the keeping support & maintenance of us during our lives in a decent and becoming manner have
granted bargained and sold and by these presents do grant bargain and sell unto David Ralston all our right title and interest
of in and to a certain tract of land situate in Buffalo township adjoining lands of James Hill on the East John Sy[sse] on the
South and others supposed to contain between three and four hundred acres. It being the said tract whereon I made an improve
ment by residence of actual settlement to have and to hold the same with its appurtenances unto the said David Ralston his heirs
& assigns forever. In witness whereof we have hereto set our hands & seals the day & year first written.
James (his mark) Barr (seal)
Martha (her mark) Barr (seal)
Signed Sealed & delivered
in presence of
Rec’d the consideration of one dollar. James (his mark) Barr
Armstrong County SS
Came before me a justice of the peace in and for said county the grantors James Barr and Martha his
wife who acknowledged the foregoing as their act and deed and as such desired the same may be recorded. The said Martha being
by me first examined apart from her husband and the contents made known to her says she executed the same voluntarily
without the compulsion of her husband. Given under my hand and seal the thirteenth day of September 1817.
Jno. SmithPennsylvania, Armstrong County. Deeds, 1805-1891. Film #861225 DGS 8084147. David Ralston, 11 Sep 1817; Vol. 3: page 222 (image 132 of 620); digitized images, FamilySearch http://www.familysearch.org : viewed online 26 August 2023.
When I first found the above deed, I keyed on the words ‘son-in-law’ and realized that this connected David Ralston to his wife’s father, James Barr. It was only as I transcribed this deed that I realized the deed likely mentioned another of James Barr’s son-in-laws.
Thus, I started search for a James Barr to James Steel deed. And I found a deed very similar to David Ralston’s deed.
Armstrong county Pennsylvania
Deeds, v. 3-4 1815-1823
Film 861225 DGS 8084146
Vol. 3 page 33 1/2
images 36 and 37 of 620
Know all men by these presents that I James Barr of Buffaloe Township Armstrong County and
State of Pennsylvania for and in consideration of keeping the said James Barr and Martha his wife during
their natural lives in a decent and Christian like manner and to be decently interred when the depart this
life to be performed by James Steel his heirs or assigns the land to be bound for the comfortable maintenance of
the said James and Martha as above specified at and before the ensealing and delivery herof the receipt
whereof is hereby acknowledged have granted bargained sold released and confirmed for the above consideration
and by these presents do grant bargain sell release and confirm unto the said James Steel his heirs and assigns
all my right title interest property claim and demand whatsoever of into or out of a certain tract or parcel of land
situate in the township aforesaid adjoining to land pattented by James hill on the East and John Sipe on the
South to be surveyed by virtue of the improvements and settlements of the said James Barr Together with all
and singular the rights members and appurtenance thereunto belonging and the revisions and remainders
To have and to hold the said tract of land and premises hereby bargained and sold or mentioned or in
tended so to be with the appurtenances unto the said James Steel his heirs and assigns to the only proper use
and behoof of the said James Steel his heirs and assigns forever. And the said James Barr and his heir, the
said hairs, granted premises unto the said James Steel his heirs and assigns against in the said James
page 34 1/2
Barr and his heirs and assigns against all and every other person and persons whatsoever lawfullyPennsylvania, Armstrong County. Deeds, 1805-1891. Film #861225 GS 8084146. James Barr, 30 Nov 1815; vol. 3: page 33 1/2 and 34 1/2 (images 36 and 37 of 620); digitized images, FamilySearch http://www.familysearch.org : viewed online 26 August 2023.
claiming or to claim by from or under from them or any of them shall and will warrant and forever defend by
these presents. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal this thirtieth day
of Novr In the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifteen. It is also said James Barr
doth give unto the said James Steel all his household property goods and chattels whatsoever.
James his mark Barr (seal)
Test Jno Smith John Sipe
Armstrong Count SS Personally came before John Smith Esqr one of the Commonwealth Justices of
the peace in & for the county aforesaid James Barr and acknowledged the within bill of sale to be his
act and deed and desired the same may be recorded as such. Witness my hand and seal this thirtieth
day of Nov 1815 (Recorded Decr 1 1815)
Based on this 1815 deed between James Barr and James Steel, I believe that Hannah Barr had a sister married to James Steel. A search of FamilySearch turned up a possibility for this sister: Elizabeth Barr [G9KR-LS4]. Elizabeth’s FamilySearch profile shows two different sets of parents. One set is for a James Barr [G9KT-777] and his wife, Martha.
The James Barr [G9KT-777] shown as a possible father of Elizabeth Barr Steel is not the same James Barr [LHS3-SWN] connected to Hannah Barr. Both profiles show a wife named Martha. Both profiles include only one daughter. The deeds I found would suggest that James Steel and David Ralston are brothers-in-law. Because I don’t have enough documentation on any of these profiles to merge the two James Barr profiles, I am doing the following:
- attaching the deeds as sources to the James Barr [LHS3-SWN] in my tree
- uploading images of the deeds to the Memories for James Barr [LHS3-SWN]
- Adding an ‘Alert Note’ to James Barr [LHS3-SWN] suggesting the other James Barr [G9KT-777] as a possible duplicate
- Adding an ‘Alert Note’ to James Barr [G9KT-777] pointing to the other James Barr [LHS3-SWN] and the deeds in question
- Updating WikiTree profiles for David Ralston, Hannah Barr and James Barr
- Updating my Ancestry tree so that these sources appear in my tree
Since I have researched the James Steel / Elizabeth Barr family, I don’t feel comfortable merging the two James Barr profiles. Hopefully, the actions I’ve taken will prompt those who have done more BARR research to consider my suggestions.