Finding Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins Hubbard (1852-1932)

Elizabeth Sarah Hubbard (seated) and three of her four children - Willie, Mamie and Hugh
Sarah Elizabeth Hubbard (seated) and three of her four children – Willie, Mamie and Hugh

I found this picture yesterday when I was sorting through a “miscellaneous” file (not the best place for precious family photos but as I find them I store them in a safe location.) On the back, in my maternal grandmother’s handwriting, in list order from top to bottom, are the names: Willie, Hugh, Mamie, Elizabeth Hubbard.

The woman standing in the center is my great grandmother who I always knew as Nanny. Her name was Mary Alice Hubbard and she was born on April 16, 1887. She was the third of four children. This might be the only picture I’ve ever seen of my great grandmother without white hair and a black dress.

Although I’ve never seen a photo of her, I think it is a safe assumption that the woman seated is Sarah Elizabeth (Jenkins) Hubbard – my great great grandmother. She is surrounded by her three children who were living when the picture was taken. Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins went by her middle name and was listed as Betty in the 1870 census. She was born in Cumberland County VA on November 8, 1852. Betty married Robert Hugh Hubbard – my great great grandfather who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. I’ve never seen a picture of Robert (though I have one in my mind) but he joined Company G of the 44th VA infantry in 1861, suffered sunstroke on the march to the battle of Cedar Mountain (in Culpepper VA) in 1862 and was taken prisoner at Spotsylvania in 1864. He spent time in the Union prison camp at Fort Delaware but was released in early 1865. He spent some time in Confederate hospitals in Richmond in March 1865 and was on furlough home when the war ended.  I’ve written about Robert and his brothers’ Civil War service.

On a visit to Maury Cemetery in Richmond VA to visit family graves, my grandmother once told me that her grandmother – the woman seated in the picture – was “mean.” My grandmother rarely said an unkind word about anybody so I suspect her grandmother was not a very nice person. I wonder what forces shaped her? I know very little about her line of the family, but finding this picture yesterday inspired me to get back to the family history research that I’ve neglected for a few months.

This is how it usually happens – an ancestor will grab my attention and I’ll delve into the sources available on Ancestry.com and other sources to fill in the gaps of what I know about that person. The difficulty comes in staying focused on the person who sparked my interest and I often explore many other people related to that person. Using this picture as the starting point, I’ve got four people to delve into. I also know there was one other daughter born to Betty and Robert named Etta Lillian. She died in 1917 when she was 31 from complications related to pregnancy. EttaHubbardJenkins.DeathCert.1917So if you add a spouse to each of the children and any children they had – the number of “persons of interest” soon grows from one (Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins Hubbard) to 16+. But for this post, I will try to focus on the woman seated in the center of the picture that started this quest.  (Although I can already feel myself pulled to investigate her oldest daughter Etta who had a couple of young children when she died.)

Here’s what I know about Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins Hubbard. I have not visited Cumberland County VA yet so her birth date is based on her tombstone. SarahEHubbard.Tombstone.1932 Her birth year is corroborated by her age in several census reports. The 1860 Census for Cumberland County VA, Oak Forest District, lists a 7-year old daughter named Sarah E. who was the second child in the home of William H. and Susan R. Jenkins. The Census for 1870, identifies a 17-year old daughter named Betty, as the second oldest child in that home.

In 1860 William H Jenkins (53) and Sarah R Jenkins (30) had four daughters and one son in their household, which also included 60 year old Lucy Hatcher and 18 year old John Libscomb.

A few things about this census record catch my attention.

1. William is about 23 years older than his wife Sarah. According to an index of marriage records, William Jenkins married Sarah Ann Rebecca Warner on February 6, 1849. She would have been 19 and he would have been 42. She may have been his second wife.

2. Lucy Hatcher’s relationship to William and Sarah is not stated. She is only seven years older than William and though she is old enough to be Sarah’s mother, the last name of Hatcher doesn’t match Sarah’s maiden name from the marriage records, which is Warner. I now have a new surname to explore – Hatcher. My hunch is that Lucy Hatcher may be William Jenkins’ widowed sister or perhaps one of his mother’s unmarried sisters. I need to know more about the name Hatcher. I do know it was used as the middle name of one of William and Sarah’s sons so that strengthens the likelihood that it is a family name.

3. John Libscomb is listed as a laborer and his race is identified as mulatto. I am curious about his relationship to the family although it is noteworthy that this is before the Civil War and he is not listed as a slave. He doesn’t show up in the household in 1870, but there are several other black families on the same page of the 1870 Census report as the Jenkins family.

By 1870, William and Sarah’s family has grown considerably. The children in their home are: Mary (19), Betty (17), Lucy (15), Alice (13), John (11), William (9), Joseph (7), Patty (5) and Robert (3). In part because of his age, but supported by the number of children born during the years that the Civil War was raging around them, I’d say William Jenkins stayed home during the war.

Looking at Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins’ life and where she grew up (on a farm in central VA) she was undoubtedly affected by the Civil War. Some of the final battles in 1865 when she was 12 were in Cumberland County. Appomattox Courthouse, where Lee surrendered to Grant was about 45 miles southwest of her home in Oak Forest.  As the second oldest girl in a family with so many younger siblings, she was probably taking care of children from an early age.  I’m going to dig a little deeper and see what else I can learn about Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins Hubbard, her siblings and her children.

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5 thoughts on “Finding Sarah Elizabeth Jenkins Hubbard (1852-1932)

  1. I find this interesting, and shall return to visit……my brother did quite a bit of history for one reunion this year……and he found us to have relatives on both sides of same battle, from mothers family and from fathers family…..sparked an interest in the time period that I really had only from books. Southern relatives did not discuss the history, history taught growing up~not particularly helpful in midwest……we focused on which general which battle. Sorry so long, just got excited seeing this as blogging material….so many ideas.

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    1. Sarah
      I am so glad you found this interesting. I do find that my interest in civil war battles is not widely shared by most people I know so I rely on my friends in the blogosphere to share the excitement. Most of my writing on my civil war research is in my other blog https://butternutandbluetoo.wordpress.com.
      Learning about relatives who were there definitely makes it more interesting to me.

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  2. You put in a lot of hard work to write this post, Kalen. I admire you for that. Two things I noticed that appears to be a recurring thing with family research. The care people took to produce quality photos is astounding even in today’s digital age. Then there was the wonderful custom to put names and dates on the back of the photos. You came across the same problem of starting with one person and ending up with too many. My wife and I decided to go no further than our grandparents. For our own grandchildren that makes them great-great-grandparents. Thank you, Kalen for this lovely post!

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    1. Peter –
      Thank you – though I hardly deserve your admiration – you’ve written so much about your ancestors. Very impressive.
      I hope my children and grandchildren will have an interest in this family history at some point. For me it has certainly been a hobby that developed as I had more free time.
      You make a good point about the transition to digital pictures – much less control over identifying the subject.
      I am always happy to see a comment from you – thanks very much.

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