Agness & Mabel

Week 26: #52 Ancestors – Identity, Part 2

By Eilene Lyon

William C. Anderson’s First Wife

Recently, I established that Eliza Frey was NOT a wife of William C. Anderson Jr., my 4th great-grandfather. I knew about a marriage record for William Anderson and Agness Grier in 1806 in Belmont County, Ohio.1 As William tended used his middle initial in legal documents, I initially discounted it.

Additional records—including deeds, lawsuits, and probate records—revealed William’s ties to the Grier family. There are two deeds in which William C. and “Agnes his wife” sold property, the last dated in 1816.2

Recorded deed (1816) from Wm C. Anderson and Agnes his wife to Humphrey Anderson, click to enlarge. (Family Search)

The 1820 census has a female in the Anderson household, probably Agness, in the 26-44 age group, giving a birth year range of 1776–1794.3 For various reasons, I’ve narrowed that range to 1780–1790. William was born in 1781.4 While it is possible Agness died before 1820 and William remarried, there is no record to suggest this occurred. (There is a small gap in the Belmont County marriage records, however.)

There is no obvious gap in the birth years of William’s children born between 1815 and 1821, though. The son born in 1821, John K. Anderson, named his first-born child Sophia Agnes, perhaps because Agness Grier was his mother. This is not proof, but is suggestive.

By 1830, it appears that William was widowed and I believe Agness died between then and the 1824 birth of daughter, Cavy Ann.5 There is no known death or burial record.

William C. Anderson’s Second Wife

William C. Anderson Jr. was the son of William Sr. and Cavey Brashears, and had numerous siblings. The family lived in Frederick County, Maryland, in the late 1700s. William Jr.’s grandfather, Absolom Anderson, was a Revolutionary War patriot from Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

William moved back to Maryland after 1830. He married Mabel Waters in Prince George’s County on October 7, 1835.6 She was 25 years his junior. From 1836 to 1844, they had four children—a son and three daughters—all born in Maryland.7

A second headstone for William C. Anderson Jr. which includes second wife, Mabel Waters, and daughter Mary Mabel. (Note: Mabel is spelled Mable here).

Sometime between 1844 and 1850, William moved his second wife and their children to Blackford County, Indiana, where most of his adult children by Agness lived. William, Mabel, and their youngest daughter are buried together near several of Agness’s children in the Trenton South Cemetery.

Who was Agness Grier?

Because I am descended from Elizabeth (Anderson) Ransom, William’s second child by Agness, I am particularly interested in learning Agness’s ancestry. A group of Grier brothers—Henry, James, John, Thomas, and Robert—lived in Fayette County after the war. They possibly originated in York County, Pennsylvania, but may have been born in Ireland.

My 3rd great-grandmother, Elizabeth (Anderson) Ransom, daughter of William C. Anderson Jr. and Agness Grier. I have no photos of any of her siblings or half-siblings.

Two of them, Henry and John, moved to Warren Township, Belmont County, Ohio, just after 1800. Thomas remained in Fayette County. I don’t know much about James or Robert, but all these names repeat in the next generation in Henry, John, and Thomas’s families. And don’t you know how fun that can be to sort out!

Henry and John had sons named Thomas, and both young men served in the same unit in the War of 1812, along with John’s son, Robert, for example.8

Because William  and Agness married in Belmont County, likely Henry or John would have been her father. Henry is well-documented, a Revolutionary War veteran, and father of eight known children by his wife Anne Mansfield. Prior to his death in 1813, Henry wrote his will naming his heirs. He appointed William C. Anderson as one of his executors, but neither William nor Agness are otherwise named.9

John Grier, though noted in Belmont histories as one of the first three settlers in Warren Township, and having served as the county clerk, did not leave as much narrative history.10 (As clerk, John signed William and Agness’s marriage return.) He probably had two wives, and his War of 1812 veteran sons were by the first one. Both wives predeceased him, so they are not named in his will and no marriage records seem to exist, either.

A section of the Ohio River Survey of 1805 showing land in Warren Township, Belmont County, owned by Henry (red) and John (green) Grier. John later moved to neighboring Guernsey County. Click to enlarge. (Ancestry.com)

Because John died in 1834 and Agness predeceased him, she was not named in his will.11 If John had thought to name his grandchildren, like his brothers Henry and Thomas did in their wills, it would have been clear that Agness was his daughter. No such luck!

My cousin Marion suggested DNA, but I thought these people were too many generations back. For my DNA, that turns out to be true, but ta da! I have my mom’s DNA and waaaay down in her list of matches is a Grier descendant whose tree is not connected to my tree except by ONE person: John Grier.

This match is descended through one of John’s children by his second wife (Agness’s half-sibling). While this may not be ironclad evidence, it’s good enough for me. I declare John Grier to be my 5th great-grandfather. Welcome to the family, John!

Feature image: A Grier family homestead in Warren Township, Belmont County, Ohio, established in 1840. (E. Lyon 2017)

Agness Grier on Ancestry.com.


  1. Agness Grier and William Anderson. Ancestry.com. Ohio, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1774-1993 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. 
  2. Belmont County Deed Book E pp. 79-80. https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/247145 
  3. William C. Anderson. 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Warren, Belmont, Ohio; Page: 275; NARA Roll: M33_86; Image: 154 – via Ancestry.com. 
  4. Found on his second headstone in the Trenton South Cemetery. 
  5. Wm C. Anderson. Year: 1830; Census Place: Oxford, Guernsey, Ohio; Series: M19; Roll: 131; Page: 395; Family History Library Film: 0337942 – via Ancestry.com. 
  6. William C. Anderson and Mabel Waters. Ancestry.com. Maryland, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1655-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. 
  7. Wm C. Anderson. Year: 1850; Census Place: Jackson, Blackford, Indiana; Roll: 136; Page: 39a – via Ancestry.com. 
  8. Howe, Henry. History of Belmont County, Ohio 1801-1889; Excerpted from the Centennial  History of Ohio and Illustrated with Howe’s Sketches from 1846 to 1890. 1898 ed. Knightstown, Indiana: The Bookmark, 1980, pp. 335-337. 
  9. Henry Grier. Ohio. Probate Court (Belmont County); Probate Place: Belmont, Ohio Vol. A pp. 77-8 – via Ancestry.com. 
  10. See note 8. 
  11. John Grier. Record of Wills, 1812-1918; Index, 1812-1972; Author: Ohio. Probate Court (Guernsey County); Probate Place: Guernsey, Ohio Vol. A pp. 345-347 – via Ancestry.com. 

24 thoughts on “Agness & Mabel

Add yours

    1. Seek and ye shall find…

      Honestly, I was astonished, because I needed someone who only connected on the Grier line, not Anderson, too. There were a number of Anderson-Grier marriages, making it less likely I would find this needle-in-a-haystack.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Having been able to get my parents’ DNA has been a huge boon to my research. I consider myself quite fortunate. On the downside, my grandmother died before this became possible – ‘cause she has some ‘splainin’ to do!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I know you have resolved your ancestor hypothesis here, but I’d like to suggest checking AmRev and W1812 pension records for family info even if the widow predeceased the vet or the vet died prior to a pension being granted. I have discovered children (both minors and adults) of veterans who applied for benefits and their attached letters of evidence include marriage dates and names and birthdates of the veteran’s offspring. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Three thoughts on this one. First, and most striking to me, is your very strong resemblance to Elizabth Ransom. Also, I liked the surprise ending while I was most assuredly anticipating an unsolved mystery. The DNA resolved it. Wow. Thirdly, and apropos of almost nothing, I once dated a girl in Barnesville (located in Warren Twp).

    Liked by 1 person

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