Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big Family Secrets

When Uncle Tuck found out that Mom was doing genealogy he told her, you might not like what you find out! Now Mom is way cool about family scandals... she doesn't care what the ancestors did as long as her brood stay out of trouble;)

Mom didn't think much about what Uncle Tuck said because he wasn't specific, but it did seem to her that there were secrets to be had if one looked hard enough. Some time went by and Mom discovered what Uncle Tuck was talking about. It looked like her great grandfather, Samuel Albert House was illegitimate!

After due research Mom wrote this in her Notes in Family Tree Maker:

"Samuel Albert House was born ot of wedlock to Rebecca House. There is every indication that his father was Isaac Biggerstaff.

Two reasons for this thought being that the 1850 cenus of Morgan Co.,W.Va. has a Samuel Biggerstaff living with Rebecca House Caton. His age is 16. Samuel was born 11 Feb 1832.

The other reason was that in his death certificate his daughter, my grandmother, listed his father as Issac House and his mother as Rebecca Biggerstaff but in that time period there was no Issac House and no Rebecca Biggerstaff in the Morgan Co. W,Va. area where he was born. There was a Rebecca House and an Issac Biggerstaff."

OK, so there you go. Big-deal family secret: Who da baby-daddy? All evedince points to Isaac Biggerstaff. Samuel Albert is even going by Samuel Biggerstaff in the 1850 US Census. And if you look at all the available male Biggerstaffs in Magnolia, West Virginia at that time, it points to Isaac.

So that's our starting point. I don't know what it is about all this but I smelled a really interesting story here beyond the usual who-slept-with-who tale. I have also just been back east to visit Mom and we all went to Magnolia, West Virginia, or what's left of it. The recent placing of my feet on the very soil of my ancestors back in the deep woods of West Virginia got me thinking.
(See posting below at )

I have a big basket of information, random facts and thoughts surrounding this issue. So here in the best order I can make of it is what I know, or think I know. Please, feel free to jump in with thoughts and ideas about this saga. I'd love some help here:)

The Biggerstaffs were a landed family. Isacc's grandfather William left numerous acres of land to Isaac in his will of which I have a copy. Isaac also enjoyed additional land through inheritance from his father, Samuel. Isaac was land wealthy. The Houses on the other hand were, as Mom likes to put it, dirt poor. He did marry Elizabeth Longstreth who came from a prominent Pennsylvania family.
Thought: The marriage of Isaac to Rebecca House would not have been a good match in the eyes of the Biggerstaff family, especially Isaac's grandfather, William, from whom he stood to inherit. Did his grandfather step in?

Isaac Biggerstaff's first child in his marriage was named "Rebecca". Interestingly, this first child in his mariage to Elizabeth Longstreth arrived just about the time Rebecca House gave birth to Samuel Albert. We can conclude that Rebecca House and Isaac Biggerstaff were intimate right up the time he was married.
Thought: It's not unheard of back in this place and time for couples to get pregnant so as to force the parents to give them a blessing. Heck, my great grandparents did it because she was from a Lutheran family and he a Catholic family. They had to have a couple of kids to get the parents to cave:)

Rebecca and Isaac's child was named "Samuel". Samuel was Isaac's father's name.
Thought: Was this an effort to curry favor with the landed grandfather of Isaac by honoring Isaac's deceased father?

Rebecca House married Patrick Caton one month after Isaac Biggerstaff died. Rebecca House waited 12 years to marry and did so only after Issac's death on 24 March 1844. She married Patrick Caton, a man from Ireland, on 13 April, 1844.
Thought: Mom thinks that Rebecca and Isaac were true lovers and that she did not want to marry anyone else. Only after Isaac was finally gone did she feel free to mary.

Early 1900s House Family Reunion. In the early years of the 1900s and before 1910 there was a House Family Reunion in Ohio. Mom has a copy of the memories shared there and written down by all in attendance. It resided, gathering dust, in Mary's attic until one day Mary said to Mom, Hey you want to come over and see those old papers in my attic? You don't need to ask Mom a question like that twice:) She borrowed and copied them. In the papers of the House Family Reunion someone stated that it was commonly known that Samuel Albert House's father was Issac Biggerstsaff.

Isaac and Rebecca were possibly first cousins, once removed. Mom and I need to verify this but it looks like it could be correct. Yeah... it's West Virginia;)

Picture of the day from the Archive:

Samuel Albert House,
1832 - 1917

Other posts about the exploits of Samuel Albert House can be found on this blog at :

Please Note: Blogger is hay-wire today so I couldn't do a spell chack. I'm flying without a net for the time being. So sorry!

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