Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rachel Catherine Tolley: 1800s Dycusburg Resident

We received this e-mail from David Sullivan of Denver, CO, detailing his great-great grandmother, Rachel Catherine Tolley. She is pictured at right. If you have any information on these families, David would appreciate hearing from you. He can be e-mailed at
Born 15 Jul 1839, my GG-Grandmother, Rachel Catherine Tolley, had a son by Robert Tinsley in 1855 named John Alexander Tinsley. We don't know if they were married or not.

On 6 Nov 1859, she married Dycusburg's Nehemiah Grassham (shortly after burying the mother of his children, Mary Polly Clark, who died 20 Aug 1858). At that time, Rachel's last name was "Wells", so she must have been married to somebody by that last name. We've not found who he was or any marriage or divorce paperwork regarding them other than the marriage paperwork to Nehemiah.

On 26 Jun 1870, she married my GG-Grandfather, Isaac Sullivan. Sometime between that date and the 1880 census, Isaac and Rachel moved to Rosiclare in Hardin County Illinois. But until that time, Rachel seemed to be a Dycusburg resident.

We're not sure where she was born although we know it was SOMEWHERE near Dycusburg. She had an older brother, John L. Tolley, who was born in 1817 in Eddyville. She had a younger sister, Nancy Ann Tolley, who was born in Crittenden County on "Old Dycusburg Road." We presume that their parents, at that time, lived between Fredonia and Dycusburg.

She had an older sister, Tabitha Ann Tolley, who married William M. Hill on 23 Dec 1844 in Crittenden County in their parents' house "on old Dycusburg Road." William M. Hill, in addition to being noted as a fair groceryman, also became a Judge in that area.

William and Tabitha Hill had a son named Charles H. Hill who became very instrumental in the Baptist Church in Dycusburg.

So that's pretty much some connecting background to my GG-Grandmother, Rachel Catherine Tolley. If anybody can help us learn about her immediate family (presuming that many of the details I've provided here are hopefully correct), we'd TRULY appreciate it!

Based on her appearance in this photo, she should have been approximately 20 years old. That would be about the time that she married Nehemiah Grassham. So the date on the photo should be circa 1859ish.

We presume that it was a painting. The most likely candidate in that area at that time for her "Mr. Wells" appears to be James W. Wells, step-son of George Washington Markham (of Dycusburg). It appears as though Mr. Wells may have gone to Louisville to study art. Maybe it's possible that HE is the one who painted the picture. We don't know, but it's a possibility. James W. Wells and his Markham step-siblings moved on to San Joaquin County, California shortly after that and got written into their history books. Turns out that Wells became a Minister and Professor.

Well, Dycusburg has been crucial to the research of our family. We sprang up from there. Having no known family there any longer, and now living in Denver, Colorado, I want to tell you that I am utterly thrilled that you have taken the time to make your site available to us.

Thank you SO much. And I hope you can take advantage of this photo and that maybe it will help us to learn about our Tolley/Crider family in Crittenden County.


Anonymous said...

i know a family named tolley in the lola area, might give them a call. 270-988-2804

Jason Townsend said...

James Wells had a brother named Jasper Wells as well.

David Sullivan said...

It's been a while since this was so generously passed on. As usually occurs, we learn more. Enough-so that I feel a need to add a couple of modifications in addendum to this.

First, Nancy Ann Tolley does not seem to come from the same immediate family that Rachel did. I no longer believe they were sisters.

Second, the "Wells" that Rachel was married to was NOT the Reverend Professor James W. Wells that I hypothesized above. Enough information has been published regarding him to make that impossible.

Finally, I located John L. Tolley's obituary in a 1909 Crittenden Press-Record last night which directly states that John Tinsley was his nephew. This solidifies our believe that John L. Tolley was Rachel's brother.

Thank you for allowing me to amend this information.

--- David Sullivan