Devin Timber Blog

Why a Devin Timber Blog?

You might know about a web site at www.devintimber.org. I am the Site coordinator. Why start a blog when I have more than enough to do to try to keep Devin Timber updated?

Simply put, some of the stuff I find does not belong on Devin Timber because it involves my opinion or not enough proof exists to keep to the standards of integrity we try to maintain at Devin Timber. I do not expect everyone to agree with me. This is my forum to question what does not seem correct and to present speculation in my research. I also plan to pass on tidbits other people send to me from their research.

You are welcome to comment on what I write, but if you flame me, I do expect you to have proof to back up what you say.

Best Regards,
David Devin

A Most Traveled Family. NOT!

If you believe all of the stories and “published” evidence for the William (b:c1752 d:1810) and Martha Devin family, they had to be the most traveled family of their time. To date, I have read or heard stories that seem to suggest this family moved every few years; most of the stories do not have any supporting evidence. In my humble opinion and research, (plus a little common sense) shows this family probably never left Pittsylvania county Virginia after arriving there sometime before 1767.

  1. One story out the Devin Family manuscript, compiled by Dessa Hoffstetter, says William Devin and family went to Kentucky sometime between 1785 and 1787. So far, no evidence has been found to support this family story. In fact, documents show William was probably in Pittsylvania County during this time.
    • William received his final military pay in August 1785.
    • William is on the Pittsylvania tax list for 1785.
    • He did not receive his bounty land warrant until 1788. Such land warrants were for land in Kentucky, but William got his warrant after he supposedly came back from Kentucky. Co-incidentally, William’s younger brother received a land grant for 200 acres in Kentucky when he went to Warren County KY in 1799, which is exactly the same acreage William was authorized in his military land warrant (no proof that William assigned it to Alexander, though).
    • The William Devine documented to be in Kentucky in the 1785-1787 time frame appears to be the William Devin from the Maryland Continental Line in the Revolutionary war.
  2. Published family trees on the WorldConnect Project try to put William and Martha Devin in Lincoln County Tennessee in 1806, so Irbin Finley Devin could be born. First there is no known document to show William and Martha ever went to Lincoln County or had Irbin Finley Devin as a son. If you have such a document, show me. Known DNA samples from the William Devin line and the Irbin Finley Devin lines show that the two samples are not related.
  3. Published family trees on the WorldConnect Project also try to put William and Martha Devin in Chester County Pennsylvania for the 1800 U.S. Census. I have not seen any primary document to show that the William Devin on the Chester County census is the William Devin from Pittsylvania County Virginia. Show me the document if you have it.
  4. I recently read a “published” genealogy where William Devin of Pittsylvania County Virginia moved to the Finger Lakes Region of New York circa 1808 and was living there in 1834. Simple math says otherwise. If William Devin of Pittsylvania County Virginia died in 1810, how could he be in New York in 1834? Plus the Pittsylvania County William Devin (d:1810) received land in the county in 1809 as part of his father’s estate settlement. Finally, the William Diven of New York is actually part of the Alexander Diven lines out of Cumberland County Pennsylvania.

If you put all of the places where William and Martha Devin were supposed to have lived on a timeline, I would say that the references to a William Devin in the places other than Pittsylvania County are for men with a similar name or just wishful thinking.

Jumping to Conclusions

To begin, let me be perfectly clear, this article is pure speculation, but backed up by a few tidbits of evidence or lack thereof. I want to take an idea from the CSI television shows and do a little forensic brainstorming. I feel this theory needs to be presented, so others can comment and perhaps add their research efforts to help prove or disprove my hypothesis.

First the background: William Devin (b:c1724 d:1802 in Pittsylvania County VA) [aka William Senior) has been regarded by some published genealogies as the son of a William & Martha Devin supposedly married 07-Sep-1720 by the “Rector of Camden.” This William has also been said to have a sister named, Sarah, born 20-Mar-1727/28. The dates and names come from Page 1 of “The Devin Family,” a manuscript compiled by Dessa DEVIN Hofstetter circa 1962.

To quote:

From a letter to Alfred Harrison Devin written by Rev. Robert Ira Devin,
son of James, son of Wm. Jr., son of Wm. Sr., we are given the following
interesting records:

Records of the Parish of Camden:

“William and Martha Devin were joined in marriage the 7th day of Sept. 1720
by the Rector of Camden.”
“William Devin, born 1724.”
“Sarah Devin born March 20, 1728.”

End of quote

Notice, the names and dates are listed on Page 1 of Dessa’s manuscript. However, it is never stated that William & Martha (m:1720) are the parents of William (b:c1724). I believe people have assumed that the so-called “records” are trying to list the parents of William (b:c1724). Hasn’t anyone ever questioned any of the following facts as they are presented in the some of the published genealogies?
•William & Martha Devin (m:1720) just happen to have the same marriage date as William Devin, Jr. and Martha [p:Mitchell] m:07-Sep-1780?
•William Devin (b:c1724) just happened to have a wife [p:Sarah Smith] with the same given name as his “sister?”
•William (b:c1752) also married a Martha the same as his supposed Grandfather?

Okay, similar names between generations are common or else genealogy would not be so challenging. Hundreds and possibly thousands of hours have been spent trying prove a relationship that William and Martha (m:1720) are the parents of William (b:c1724) and finding the “Records of the Parish of Camden.” I hope they exist, because finding the original “interesting records” would probably solve the entire mystery.

Dessa probably did not write the original of this part of her manuscript, so she cannot be “blamed” for the ambiguity of these “records.” The tone and writing style is completely different from the parts that only she could have authored. I suspect she included an earlier history written by her great uncle, Alfred Harrison Devin, in her manuscript. The specific references to letters from Robert I. Devin to Alfred H. Devin for the first four pages of the manuscript are good clues that Alfred Devin is the author; but not conclusive.

My Hypothesis:

What if the supposed “interesting records” (if they exist at all) may be a record of the marriage for William Devin, Jr. (b:c1752 d:1810) and Martha {p:Mitchell} (b:c1762 d:c1832)? What if the ’2′ in 1720 is actually an ’8?’ Then, the other mentioned William Devin (b:c1724) and the Sarah Devin (b:20-Mar-1727/28) could be William’s (b:c1752 d:1810) parents.

Arguments for my hypothesis:
◾It was common practice to record information about the entire family at special church events such as weddings and baptisms. So…this “record” maybe listing the happy couple and the birth dates of the groom’s parents. The format is similar to other records that I have seen which record a special church event. I would expect to find the bride’s parents also if I was looking at the original record, which I am not.
◾Camden parish was formed at the same time and had the same borders as Pittsylvania County VA. However, neither existed until 1767 from a legal act passed in 1766. Do the math, the Camden Parish of Pittsylvania County Virginia did not exist until 46 years after this supposed marriage. However, if the year is actually 1780, then the Camden Parish reference could be for Pittsylvania County Virginia and William (b:c1752).
◾The “interesting records” were attributed to circa 1880 letters from Robert Ira Devin of Granville County, North Carolina to Alfred Harrison Devin in Polk County, Missouri. If you assume the “interesting records” actually existed, Robert most likely “found” them in Pittsylvania County (Camden Parish) as that is where his family was from and Granville County is close to Pittsylvania County. No other “Parish of Camden” is close to where Robert I. Devin lived.
◾The number eight being mis-read as the number two is not so farfetched. I have encountered it a number of times while transcribing deed and grant records for Pittsylvania County Virginia. The stylized hand-written 8 just needed a pen skip on the stroke going from the upper left to the bottom right and you have what looks like the number two. You have to compare several of the writer’s 2s and 8s to verify how he styled his numerals. In addition, assuming Robert Ira Devin got his information directly from the original record (whatever/wherever that was), there are several possibilities:
A.The record really does say 1720, but it leaves us with a question, “Which Parish of Camden?” It certainly wasn’t the one in Pittsylvania County Virginia if 1720 is accurate.
B.He mis-read the handwritten 8 in 1780 as a 2 and that is what he recorded. He is reading 100 year old records that may be faded.
C.He read the original correctly, but mis-read his notes.
D.He wrote 1780 in his letter to Alfred Devin, but it was mis-read by the reader of the letter.
◾I have to question any information attributed to Robert Ira Devin in Dessa’s manuscript. Other information attributed to his letters sent to Alfred Harrison Devin also have some issues. The most glaring issue is a statement on page 4 where Rev. Robert Ira Devin (b:1822) is quoted as saying, “I have heard my grandfather speak of Alexander Devin, his youngest brother, born in 1769. … My grandfather William Devin, Jr. was born in Pittsylvania County, Va. and was a soldier three years in the War of the revolution.” If William Devin, Jr. died in 1810, then Robert Ira Devin was born 12 years after his grandfather died, so he could not have heard anything his grandfather said. It could be that the date of death for William Jr. or the birth date of Robert I. is incorrect. It could be possible that the letters from Robert I. Devin were mis-read, mis-quoted, mis-interpreted, or taken out of context. Either way, you cannot take any information presented in the first few pages of the manuscript at face value.

Counter Arguments:
1.I am using the same citation (the Dessa manuscript) as everyone else. To date, no one has found the “Records of the Parish of Camden” that Robert I. Devin wrote to Alfred H. Devin about. I am taking the same leaps of conjecture that are just as bad as the assumption that William (b:c1724) had a sister named Sarah Devin (b:20-Mar-1727/28).
2.The “interesting records” do not state any relationship except for the marriage of a William and Martha.
3.There could be a Camden from which a Rector came that existed in 1720. I just have not found one, yet. Show me a primary record for a Rector of Camden in 1720 from anywhere in the world and we have evidence that Robert’s “records” are correct as stated in Dessa’s manuscript. Someone please tell me where or which Camden existed in 1720 that could be remotely connected to this Rector or family.
4.I don’t have any primary records for the marriage of William Devin, Jr. (b:c1752). All we have is that her first name was Martha. I also don’t have any primary record for the name of William Devin, Sr.’s spouse. All we have is Dessa’s manuscript and a possibility that Robert Devin (b:1759 d:1833) named his only daughter after his mother. Without those records to collaborate or refute any interpretation of the “interesting records,” my hypothesis is blowing as much smoke as the assumption that William (b:c1724 d:1802) had parents named, “William & Martha.”

Conclusion:

We have two interpretations of the “interesting records” found on page 1 of Dessa’s manuscript. One or the other (or neither one) of the interpretations could be correct. We need to find the original “Records of the Parish of Camden” (if they exist) to be certain.

My whole point is: to use these particular statements in Dessa’s manuscript as the evidence of any relationship is pure speculation. A strict reading of the text does not specify how William, William, Sarah, and Martha are related except to show that a William married a Martha. The reference for any Rector of Camden in 1720 is not supported by any known primary document, which makes me suspect “Rector of Camden” or the date or both are incorrect.

My family came through Missouri, The Show Me State. Show me the primary records before you insist that I accept such a relationship.

Irbin Finley Devin is not related to Clayton Devin

A recent visitor to Devin Timber reported that Irbin Finley Devin (b:1806 in Lincoln County Tennessee) is the youngest son of William Devin, Jr. (d:1810) and Martha (Mitchell) Devin. The relationship is being published in several of the Rootsweb WorldConnect family tree projects.

I have not seen any paper evidence to prove or disprove this relationship. Irbin is not mentioned in any of the classical manuscripts about the Pittsylvania County Devin clan. I have not seen any evidence that William and Martha Devin ever went to Lincoln County Tennessee. In fact, Pittsylvania County VA deed and tax records suggest William and Martha stayed in Pittsylvania County during the first decade of the 1800s. At least, two of their sons (Clayton and Wiliam Robert) went to Lincoln County after the War of 1812, but that was long after Irbin was born.

The single DNA samples that are known from the Irbin Finley Devin line and the Clayton Devin line are strong evidence that Irbin and Clayton do not share a common ancestor in more than one thousand years. There is a possibility that an adoption or non-marital pregnancy has corrupted the DNA relationships. However, when you consider that no known paper trail exists to show this relationship, two strikes are a pretty strong indicator that Irbin Finley Devin and Clayton Devin are not brothers, adopted or otherwise.

If anyone has a primary document that shows Irbin Finley Devin is related to any of the Wiliam and Martha Devin lines, please forward it to me as soon as possible. I will publish the document on Devin Timber. Many hundreds of hours have been spent trying to find a document showing the connection between the Irbin Finley Devin clan and the other Devin families in Lincoln County Tennessee; be the first to produce it.

Without such a document, I have to conclude that the relationship does not exist and any published line showing otherwise is probably wishful thinking.

William & Martha Devin are not in Warnock Cemetery

I like Find-a-Grave. It is a great way to find where our ancestors are buried. You will not find me posting memorials there, because if the deceased is one of the descendants of William Devin, Sr., then I am going to spend the time adding the gravestone picture and burial information to Devin Timber.

A person recently sent me a link (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=54757482) to a memorial for William Devin (b:1752 d:1810). At first, I thought, “Great, someone finally found where he is buried.” Then, I saw that the memorial was for the Warnock Cemetery in Princeton Indiana. Say what?!

You look at the Find-A-Grave memorial (#54757482) and it clearly states that this William Devin died in Pittsylvania County Virginia in 1810 and Martha died in Pittsylvania County about 1832. As the person who sent me the link stated, “Why would someone transport a body 600 miles over some of the roughest terrain of the time to bury William in a place he never lived?” I am not even sure Warnock cemetery existed in 1810. The Rev. Alexander Devin (William’s younger brother) family had only been in the area three years, and Alexander’s family was one of the first families in the area.

It is possible a memorial marker was placed at Warnock cemetery, but there is not a headstone photograph to accompany the memorial. However, it is my humble opinion that a memorial marker is not likely. Why would anyone in the Alexander Devin line put a memorial marker up for their Uncle or Great-uncle?

Alexander Devin and Susan did have several grandsons named William. A couple of them are even buried in Warnock Cemetery with Find-a-Grave memorials. However, none of the Williams in the Alexander line descendants were born about 1752 or died in 1810.

Most likely this was a simple mistake in someone’s genealogy program. Confusing similar names happens to us all; especially when merging duplicate records. I would have thought alarm bells would have been ringing as the creator of the memorial entered the information, because the memorial information simply does not fit the place and time. Hopefully, this memorial will be corrected or removed very soon, before someone gets their research corrupted with this mis-information.

If someone, anyone, has any evidence that this William and Martha are buried in Warnock cemetery, please let me know as soon as possible. I will present my appologies and gladly admit I made a mistake.

William & Martha Devin Were Not in Sadsbury PA

I recently noticed published family trees on the Rootsweb WorldConnect service showing William Devin, Jr. (b:c1752 d:1810) as being enumerated on the 1800 U.S. Census for Sadsbury, Chester County, Pennsylvania. I checked. There is a William Devin on that census sheet. However, I don’t see any evidence to indicate that the William Devin of Chester County is the same William Devin, Jr. of Pittsylvania County Virginia. Unfortunately, the 1800 census for Pittsylvania county does not exist, so we cannot show that there were two individuals with the same name in different places.

The note linked to the above said event names spouse and children’s names. Last I saw, only Head of Household names are shown on the 1800 census, so these other names had to come from some other document or a mistake was made. To date, I know of no document which shows that the William and Martha Devin family were in Chester County Pennsylvania. If you have such a document or citation, please send it to Devin Timber.

William (b:c1752 d:1810) bought land from his father in Pittsylvania county in 1794 and sold it in 1805. That suggests to me that this William was in Pittsylvania county Virginia in 1800, not in Chester County Pennsylvania.

A quick Internet search seems to indicate that the William Devin in Chester County in 1800 was a son of James Diven (son of Alexander Diven) of Cumberland County Pennsylvania.