Saturday, October 13, 2012

Judith (Benson) Mitchell

Judith (Benson) Mitchell

August 27, 1787-Apri1 3, 1882
Shelby and Ohio Counties, KY


An Introduction to Chichester Benson

Abt. 1763-August 1826

Judith Benson was the daughter of Chichester and Mary Benson, who reportedly came to America from Ireland or Wales, date unknown.  Some researchers say that Chichester first settled in Virginia and that he served in the American Revolution from Virginia.  A man by that name is listed in the Historical Register Virginians in the Revolution, Richmond, 1938, by John H. Gwathmey.  The American Revolution, also called the American War of Independence, was waged between the American colonies and Great Britain (1775-1783).

If we calculate that Chichester was possibly born between 1760 and 1763 and married Mary between 1781 and 1784, we could conclude that he would have been old enough to serve in the Revolution toward the end of the war. 

It is likely he and Mary had their first child within a year or two of their marriage. That would tie in with the marriage of his daughter, Elizabeth “Betsy” Benson, who married Elias Wood on February 6, 1805, in Shelby County, Kentucky.  Betsy was probably eighteen or nineteen when she married which would put her birthdate between 1785 and 1786, making her the oldest (she was named as the first child in Chichester’s will). 

One Chichester Benson, who may possibly be our ancestor is documented in Surry County, North Carolina.  The 1784-1787 census of North Carolina, Captain Humphrey’s District, lists a Chichester Benson, head of a family consisting of 1 male 21-60 and 1 female.  This would seem to be compatible in time and place for our ancestor. Possibly, Betsy was born a year or two after the North Carolina State census was initially taken in 1784.

Tax records in Surry County, if extant, would verify what year he moved into the county and began paying poll or property taxes.  It would also prove when he left the county and what year his name ceased to be listed on the tax rolls.  Census takers often missed our ancestors living in a county, but tax collectors seldom missed them.

Chichester and Mary (last name unknown) had seven known children (may not be in the correct birth order) – but are given in the order cited in their father’s will:

1)      Elizabeth “Betsy” who married Elias Wood, Feb 6, 1805, Shelby County, KY.
2)      Judith who married Joseph F. Mitchell, December 29, 1807, Shelby County.
3)      George Benson, no further information.
4)      Zachariah Benson, married Elizabeth (?); moved to Washington Co. IN.
5)      Sarah “Sally” married George Snelling, February 22, 1809, Shelby County.
6)      Roseanna “Rosey” who married John Mitchell, August 25, 1813, Shelby County.
When they moved to Washington County, IN, Zachariah moved with them.
7)       Ann Benson, married George Tucker, February 7, 1827, Shelby County.

Chichester’s name was first found in Shelby County, Kentucky in the 1803 tax records.  In 1805, his daughter, Betsy, married Elias Wood in Shelby County.  Other records document that Chichester Benson arrived in the county at least before the August Term of Court 1807, when he was paid for "crying the sale for the Estate of Elizabeth Butler." 

The above data was researched, copied, and transcribed from Film 33970, part 2, 259,250: Shelby Co. Wills, page 172, Volume 2, Indexed, by George E. Kimble in Florida from microfilmed records in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He stated that lack of time prevented an exhaustive study of the available records, but, however, that this data should provide a basis for further study.  Part of his notes follow that included a photocopy of Chichester’s original will, written in 1825, but not recorded until 1826.

The will of Chichester Benson, dated 26 September 1825, recorded August Term 1826, in Will Book No. 7, Pages 168/170, names wife, Mary; children - Betsy Wood, wife of Elias Wood, Judy Mitchell, wife of Robert Mitchell; George Benson, Zachariah Benson, Sally Snelling, wife of George Snelling; Rosey Mitchell, the wife of John Mitchell; & Ann Benson; grandchildren - John, Polly, Thompson and Jonathan Mitchell, children of Joseph Mitchell, deceased.  (Joseph was first married to Judith Benson). 

In his will, Chichester further provided for his wife:

“whereas my dear wife Mary Benson has been much aid to me in accumulating the property I now hold, & for love I now hold for her, I do therefore give and bequeath unto my said wife, during her natural life, the profits, interests & rents arising from my entire property or so much of it as shall support her in care & comfort for her to live in the dwelling I now inhabit during her natural life, but nevertheless, if she chose not to reside therein, then they, the executors hereinafter to be named, shall rent the same out for the support of my said wife, during her natural life.”


In the Shelby County Court, September Term 1826, on motion of William Bayne, Executor, ordered that James Pierce, Jonathan Webb, Edmund Bull and James Bayne, or any three of them being first sworn, to appraise the Slaves, if any, and personal Estate of Chichester Benson, dec’sd and that they report thereof to Court.  Attested by Jas. Whitaker, Clerk.

 Appraisement of the personal property of Chichester Benson, October 23, 1826, includes two negro women, Chloe and Patsy.  The Inventory and Appraisement was examined and approved by the court on motion of William Bayne, Exectr, ordered to be recorded.  The Inventory included 3 horses, 13 head of sheep, 6 head of cattle, 19 hogs, one ox cart, plows, axes, hoes, spade, log chain, carpenters tools, 34 geese and ganders, one rifle gun, kitchen and bedroom furniture, flat irons, loom, grindstone, hay, oats, 75 barrels of corn, one flax brake, one wheat fan, tubs, barrels, 2 mowing sythes, etc.”  (Values are given in the original inventory, plus additional items.)

No record has been found as to where Chichester was buried in Shelby County – perhaps on his farm.  He would have been between 63 and 66 years old.   It is unknown what happened to Mary after her husband’s death, and whether or not she chose to continue to live in her home.  Most likely, she eventually went to live with one of her children.  An analysis and study of Shelby County census and tax records could possibly shed light on where she lived after 1826.

Joseph F. Mitchell

At age 20 in Shelby County, Judith Benson married Joseph F. Mitchell, said to be of “Irish parents,” on December 29, 1807.  This couple had four children, born between 1809 and 1816:

    1)  John, born April 24, 1809, Shelby Co, KY; md. Sarah Ann Smith in 1831
    2)  Mary "Polly," born about 1811, md. William Miller, March 27, 1828, Ohio Co.
    3)  Thompson, born July 3, 1813, who md. Ann Miller, July 28, 1836, Ohio Co.
    4)  Jonathan, md. Jenetta Ann Smith, September 9, 1840, Ohio Co.

Joseph apparently died in 1816, as documented in probate records. Because he died intestate, an Administration was had for his estate in the December court, settled by Judith Mitchell. In Will Book No. 3, pages 499/500 of Shelby County, Kentucky, is included an appraisement and inventory of personal property sold by the Estate of Joseph Mitchell, deceased, by Judith Mitchell, (her mark), Administrator, December Court of 1816.  

A guardian for the minor children of Joseph and Judith should have been appointed by the Court, and further study may prove this to be William Mitchell, who was possibly a brother of Joseph.  Court records need further investigation after 1816 for the guardianship.

Robert Mitchell

About three years after Joseph’s death in 1816, Judith married Joseph's brother, Robert Mitchell. She was 32 and he was 36.  Robert may have been the son of Robert Mitchell (Sr.) and Elizabeth Campbell.  In a deed found in Deed Book N-O, 1816-1818, Shelby County, Kentucky, dated June 20, 1816, Robert Mitchell and his wife, Elizabeth (her mark), conveyed  to Isaac Watkins, 143 acres, on the Shelbyville-Louisville Road.   Robert and Elizabeth Campbell Mitchell settled in Washington County, Indiana and are buried in the Mill Creek Cemetery, as evidenced by their headstone there.

As documented below in a marriage contract, Judith and Robert probably married about June 1819.  According to the Mitchell History written by Mrs. W. L. Kimble in Ohio County, KY - this couple after marriage first settled in Bullitt Co. KY, at Mt. Washington, where they lived a short while. Before their marriage in 1819, Robert and Judith (Benson) Mitchell, drew up the following marriage contract, recorded in Bullitt County, Kentucky in Circuit Court, Deed Books D& E, page 135 of Book D - (Microfilm No. 482,659).

 In working together with George E. Kimble, the document below was given to me by George in 1978, who transcribed it from his meticulous notes made in Salt Lake City, Utah: (All the original misspelled words have been left intact.)

“The following agreement is this day made between Robert Mitchell and Judith Mitchell, both of the County of Bullitt and State of Kentucky. 1th - That a marriage will shortly take place between the two parties. 2th - That the said Robert Mitchell on and after the celebration of such marriage hereby disclaims any and every right which by law he might or would have to such property as is owned at present or may be due or comeing to the said Judith from her father or otherwise. 3d That the said Robert Mitchell will not at anytime hereafter pretend to either with or without law to hold occupy & injoy any part or posess himself of any priviledge over and about the property which may belong or may hereafter descend or in any way whatever be given to the said Judith Mitchell. 4th - That the said Judith Mitchell or the wife of the said Robert Mitchell, to be, or whenever the said marriage shall take place shall hold and be entitled in common to all the priviledges over any property which the said Robert may posess or other married women are.

Witness our hands and seals this 18th day of June 1819. (Signed) Robert Mitchell her Judith X Mitchell mark " The previous agreement was duly acknowledged by the parties before me in my office under this day, given under my hand as Clerk of Bullitt County Court this 18th day of June 1819. (Signed) James Halbert.  


As already cited, Judith had four children by Joseph.  By her union with Robert, she had two more children:

      1)      Julia Ann Mitchell, born Feb 17, 1820, who married Walker White, Oct 24,
            1839.  She died Feb 21, 1901.  They raised a family of 10 children.

2)       Joseph Martin Mitchell, born March 19, 1822, (my ancestor).  He married Susannah Caroline Acton, Aug 24, 1843.  This couple raised a family of 9 children.  Joseph Martin Mitchell (my ancestor) was father of Mary Elizabeth Mitchell, who married James William Cox, of Ohio County, KY, August 4, 1860.  James and Mary had 14 children.)

Robert Mitchell was found paying taxes for the first time in Ohio County in the 1825 tax records. Five years later, by the time of the 1830 census, Robert was living with his wife and four children in Ohio County.  In 1835 he was listed with 168-1/2 acres and 500 acres on Caney Creek, and Thompson was listed for the first time.  The family was also shown in the 1840 census.
In the 1850 census in Ohio County, Kentucky, Robert Mitchell's age is listed at 67, thus being born about 1783. His occupation is given as a shoemaker. Judith Mitchell is 65; she was born August 27, 1787. Both are listed as being born in Pennsylvania, No children are listed with Robert and Judith in 1850, but they lived near Walker and Julia White, their daughter and son-in-law.  Robert died in 1858, but no record has been found as to his burial place.

In the 1860 census for Ohio County, Judith Mitchell, 72, is listed as living in the Brigg’s Mill, Caney District, page 155, dwelling #1026. Living with her was Elizabeth Pearson, 22.  Next door, in dwelling #1025, are listed Walker White, age 45, and Julia A. Mitchell White, age 37.  
The 1870 census of Ohio County listed Judith Benson, 83, as born in North Carolina, and living with the Walker White family.  Since Judith may have given the information herself to the census taker, it is logical and I believe her accuracy in stating that she was born in North Carolina.  It lends a little more credability to the story that Judith’s father, Chichester Benson, may have resided in Surry County, North Carolina at the time of the 1784-1787 State Census  of North Carolina in Captain Humphrey’s District.

In 1880, Judith  Mitchell, age 95, was listed as mother-in-law in the household of Walker White, 66, and Julia, his wife, age 39, along with their youngest son, Christopher K. White, age 19.  Judith’s birth year is listed “about 1785” with birthplace as Kentucky.  She is listed as “widowed” and said her father’s birthplace was Ireland.  Two years later, Judith Mitchell died in 1882, although there is some debate about the exact month and day of her death.
Reference is made to Joe Taylor’s newspaper column for Ohio County, May 10, 1882, which he said was pulled from the Hartford Herald newspaper on microfilm for the year 1882. It cites the article below.  At the time, Judith Mitchell was living near Rosine at the home of John Miller, believed to be her son.  Not really an obituary, the article appears to be more like a tribute to her life:


 “Died at the home of John Miller in Ohio County, on the 3th of April 1882, Mrs. Judith Mitchell, in her 96th year.
She was well as usual until a few hours before her death. She complained of pain in her shoulder and chest. She said her time had come, her Saviour would take her home, she had waited so long for her release, but she was going now.
She gave her dying charge, when told she would soon be better, she said, "No, the messenger has come."  The pain ceased in a short time, and she seemed to be sleeping sweetly, when she drew a long breath and her granddaughter went to her, and she was dead, without a struggle, or a moan, she had passed away. She died in peace with the world for she loved all and to know her was to love her.
Though she had not walked a step for 15 years, she retained her mental faculties to the last, and with Christian resignation was ever cheerful and alert. For many years, she had been a member of the Baptist Church, had been a widow the second time in 24 years, raised six children, five of whom were present at her burial, the youngest over fifty years old. Her living posterity at her death was 179.”  
As will be noted, we have a little dilemma here with differing dates about Judith’s exact date of death.  Two brief newspaper notices found by Lynn Miller in the Hartford Herald, edition of October 25, 1882, contradict the date of death given in the first article cited above, in which Joe Taylor stated, “Died at the home of John Miller in Ohio County, on the 3th of April 1882, Mrs. Judith Mitchell, in her 96th year.”  

To quote Lynn Miller, a well-known, knowledgeable Ohio County researcher, who has helped many other researchers, he said:  “Joe Taylor has it that she died April 3, 1882.  So I did a newspaper search for Judith Mitchell - for all of 1882.  I got one hit:  Hartford Herald, edition of October 25, 1882,” as below:

Funeral of Judith Mitchell, lately deceased
will be preached at Cane Run Church near
Cane Run next month."

Lynn checked Cane Run Cemetery in Ohio County Cemeteries, Volume 1, but she is not listed. Maybe unmarked or marker no longer there?   If Judith Mitchell is buried there, most likely her husband Robert was buried there, too.  The brief article above provides the place where her funeral would be preached.  Services at some churches were only conducted once a month due to their circuit-riding preachers.

Another discovery Lynn made was a second published notice of her death in the same newspaper edition on page 3 that mentions the preacher’s name and the name of the church where services would be held, and it invited friends in the county to attend:

"Rev. Jordan Armstrong, the well-known Baptist
                                    minister, will preach the funeral of Mrs. Judith
                        Mitchell, lately deceased, at Cane Run church
near Horse Branch, Ohio County, Ky., on the third
Sunday of next month.  Friends of the family and
the public generally are invited to attend.”

The conflicting dates are puzzling, because Lynn did a complete (1836-1922) search (twice) of the Herald in pdf and ocr-txt format at the Library of Congress site and the Kentuckiana Digital Library site and could not find an obituary for Judith in April 1882

When he searched Joe’s clippings from the Ohio County newspapers which are on line and downloadable, he found the May 10, 1882 tribute.  Here’s what Joe said, “The following information was pulled from the Hartford Herald newspaper on microfilm for the year 1882.” 

And yet, her death appears in the October 1882 newspaper, which can hardly be disputed.  I’m strongly inclined to believe her death occurred in October 1882.  Can anyone offer proof of the correct date of death for Judith Benson and the cemetery where she is buried?  If you can, please help solve this mystery.


Numerous descendants of the early pioneering families of Judith (Benson) Mitchell continue to live in Ohio County, Kentucky to this day, and many have raised respectable families of their own.  We are fortunate to be among those descendants.

                                                                         ~   Janice Cox Brown, Tyler, Texas
                                                                              October 7, 2012

(Will welcome any corrections to this biographical sketch).

Updated 29 Oct 2012

Helen McKeown writes: Remember in that 1882 era, funerals may have been preached once a year for the ones of the community who had died.  Some of those dates morphed to the church homecoming dates in future years.  So suspect this was the same person Judith Mitchell died 4-1882 funeral preached 10-1882.  

1 comment:

  1. I am interested in this article because I'm researching Robert Mitchell and Elizabeth Campbell. They are my 4x great grandparents. I have little information and wonder if you have any suggestions as to where I might acquire further information on these two and their progeny. Thanks.