the Father of Miranda Taylor,
Wife of Nathaniel Morris, of
Warren County, Missouri?
A Study Using the
Preponderance of the Evidence
Dr. William M. Litchman, C.G.
Nathaniel Morris married Miranda Taylor 28 Oct 1847 in Warren county, Missouri . The ceremony was performed by Thomas Bowen, Baptist minister.
Who is the father of Miranda Taylor?
Miranda [Taylor] Morris is mentioned by name in the following extant records in Missouri, Wisconsin, and Kansas, as well as in the Warren county, Missouri, marriage book:
1.In the 1850 census for Warren county, Missouri, Nathaniel Morris, age 31, farmer, b Virginia, is listed with Maranda [sic] Morris, age 23, b Virginia; and children, John, age 3, and William, age 1, both b Missouri .
2.An indenture in the land records for Warren county, Missouri , names Maranda [sic] as the wife of Nathaniel Morris in their sale of property (NE 1/4 of SW 1/4 of S5 T47 (N) R2 west, containing 40 acres) to James C. Dyer on 20 Jan 1855. Nathaniel had recorded the purchase of this land only a few days earlier .
3.In the 1860 census for Warren county, Missouri, Nathaniel Morris, age 39, farmer, b Virginia, is listed with Miranda, age 33, b Virginia; John, age 12; Wm., age 11; Mary E., age 8; Charles, age 6; Martha, age 4; and Louella, age 1. All of the children were born in Missouri .
4.In the 1870 census for Grant county, Wisconsin, Miranda Morris, age 44, b Virginia, is listed with Wm., age 20; Mary, age 18; Charles, age 16; Martha, age 14; Louella, age 10; and Eli, age 8. All children were born in Missouri .
5.The 1875 Kansas State census listing for Rice county, Kansas, shows Margaret Morris, age 47, born Virginia, last resident in Iowa, L. M. Morris, age 16, E. A. Morris, age 14, both born in Missouri. In the agricultural listing section is Myranda [sic] Morris, 160 acres not under fence, cash value $300, 4 acres of corn, 1 cow, 1 dog .
6.The notice that "Miranda Morris, age 49 years, died of consumption on the 10th inst., at her residence in this county" appeared in the Saline County (KS) Journal for 26 April 1876 .
There are no references to Miranda [Taylor] Morris in the probate, church, or court records of Warren county, Missouri.
Sometime between 1862, when Miranda's youngest child, Eli Morris, was born in Missouri, and 1870, when the census was taken in Wisconsin, Miranda lost her husband and moved her family to Grant county, Wisconsin. These data raise several questions about Miranda which, if they can be answered, might lead to the identification of her father.
a) How did Miranda, who was born in Virginia, come to be in Warren county, Missouri, in 1847?
b)Why did Miranda [Taylor] Morris leave Missouri after 1862?
c)Why did she go to Grant county, Wisconsin?
Since Miranda Taylor was aged 23 in 1850 and since her ages in subsequent decennial enumerations are reasonably consistent with that, it appears that she was born in Virginia about 1826-8. Possibly, in answer to Question a), she came to Missouri with her family.
Contemporary Warren county sources make the following mention of Taylor families (note that Warren county was formed from Montgomery county in 1833):
1. According to annual court settlements, Francis J. Bevan is the guardian for Theodore Taylor . Theodore is apparently a resident of Pinckney, Warren county . There are several slaves involved in the estate, indicating that Theodore's father was a reasonably wealthy man; thus the need for a guardian. On 9 Dec 1841 Theodore married Tobellah Owsley ; no indication of his being a minor was made in that record. If Miranda is Theodore's sister, it would seem highly unusual that a guardian was not also provided for her.
2.The records of the non-testamentary estate for Jesse Taylor involve the appointment of a guardian for his son "William W. Taylor, a minor, abandoned by his father for more than six months." No mention of another child by the name of Miranda is made.
3.In the 1840 census there are seven Taylor families listed in Warren county. Since this is the closest census before Miranda's marriage, we will take a close look at those families. They are: Fountain, Roger, and Vincent of Hickory Grove Twp; Daniel and Elizabeth of Bridgeport Twp; Washington of Elk Horn Twp; and Thomas of Warrenton Town .
Fountain Taylor, of Hickory Grove township is the husband of Delilah McCann, married less than a year before the census .
Daniel Taylor of Bridgeport township is in his nineties and unlikely to be the father of a thirteen-year-old daughter. The woman living in the household could be his wife, a daughter, or a female companion in her sixties. If this woman is his wife and actually sixty years old, she would have been forty seven as the mother of Miranda, which is a possibility. However, Miranda is not listed as living with them.
Elizabeth Taylor of Bridgeport is in her thirties in 1840, living with two very young children, boy and girl less than five, and a much older man, over one hundred years old . On the basis of age, Elizabeth is a possible viable candidate to be a parent of Miranda, but there is no daughter of Miranda's age living with her family.
The Roger Taylor family in Hickory Grove Twp might be a candidate family for Miranda but the probate records show that the lengthy list of heirs of his estate do not include Miranda . The efforts made by the court to find the heirs of Roger Taylor make it unlikely that Miranda would have slipped through their net should she have been a relation, especially if she were a resident in Warren county.
Washington Taylor is in his twenties in 1840 and is probably too young to be Miranda's father. Again, there is no thirteen-year-old girl living with the family.
Thomas Taylor, a young man in his twenties, appears to be single (living alone), and is hardly of the right age to be the father of Miranda.
The Vincent Taylor family lists three girls in the right age range. (There are a total of 8 children in this family, along with one older man and one older woman). This is the only Taylor family listed in the 1840 census for Warren county which could be that of Miranda. [The federal census listing for Vincent Taylor in Elkhorn Township shows: 3 males 5-9, 1 male 10-14, 1 male 40-50, 3 females 10-14, 1 female 15-19, 1 female 40-50. The 1840 Missouri state census (filed 28 Oct 1840, Missouri State Archives film C-177) lists Vincent Taylor in Elkhorn Township as follows: 3 males under 10, 1 male 10-17, 1 male 21-44 (Vincent), 4 females 10-17, 1 female 45 or over (Mary), 7 white people bet 5-16 and 10 white persons total, there were no slaves. This census only adds the information that Mary (age 45-49) is older than Vincent (age 40-44) and substantiates the count given in the federal census. Vincent is listed within five families of Jesse McCan in that census.]
In the marriage records for Warren county is a record for the marriage of Vincent Taylor and Mary McCann, 6 Nov 1839, by Joseph Nichols, Missionary Baptist at Warrenton . This suggests that the older woman listed for this family in the 1840 census is Mary [McCann] Taylor, probably not the mother of all of the children in the listing and thus probably not the first wife of Vincent Taylor or mother of Miranda. Mary McCann is the widow of Neal McCann of Warren county . The probate records for Warren county show that Neal McCann's non-testamentary estate went to probate in May of 1836 and his widow, Mary, was one of the beneficiaries of his estate along with their children.
Mary's children by her previous husband, Neal McCann, are Salama, Jesse, Rhoda, Polly, Delilah, Matilda, Lewis, Sarah, Rhuhama, and John William . All of the girls except Sarah and Rhuhama had married by 1840. Salama is referred to as "Salama Skinner, late Salama McCann," Rhoda as "Rhoda Cooper, late Rhoda McCann" , who married Elihu Cooper , and Polly married Lawrence Lankford on 14 Jul 1836, by Thomas Bowen, Baptist minister . Delilah married Fountaine [sic] Taylor on 12 Sep 1839, "groom underage, father present and consenting," by Joseph Nichols, Missionary Baptist, at Warrenton . Matilda married William Cook on 10 Apr 1836, "bride underage, by consent of her parents," by John P. Shaw, JP .
Sarah McCann married Jesse Cartwright on 27 May 1841, "mother of bride being present and consenting, her father being dead," by Joseph Nichols, Missionary Baptist, at Warrenton . In the 1850 census, her reported age is 24 years , living with her husband, Jesse, and children. Rhuhama McCann, next younger sister of Sarah, married Porter Neal on an unknown date and probably died prior to the 1850 census: she is not found in the mortality schedule for 1850 and no record of her marriage or death has been found. According to the 1850 census, Porter Neal (listed as Poter Neel), age 27, is living with Jesse and Sarah Cartwright. Rhuhama's age is not known but is probably at least two years younger than Sarah; Sarah would have been about 14 in 1840 and Rhuhama about 12.
Though there is always the possibility that the three girls aged 10-14 listed in the Vincent Taylor family are not the children of Vincent Taylor at all but are simply staying with the family, it is more likely that the children listed are actually children of one of the parents, either Vincent Taylor, or the step-mother, Mary McCann.
Mary [McCann] Taylor is the mother of two unmarried daughters, Sarah and Rhuhama ; these two, with Miranda, are of the right age to make up the three girls mentioned above.
Looking at the 1850 census for Vincent Taylor, we find that he was born in Virginia, as was Miranda , lending further support to the possibility that the Vincent Taylor family of 1840 is Miranda's family.
The 1830 census for Montgomery county shows only three Taylor families: James W. and Daniel of Lower Lautre Twp, and Roger Taylor of Elkhorn Twp. Although there is no listing for Vincent Taylor in the 1830 census for Warren county, Missouri, there are two Vincent Taylor families listed in the 1830 census for Virginia.
One Vincent Taylor family is in Fauquier county; the listing shows three males under 5, one male aged 50-59, and two women, one aged 50-59 and the other 20-29 . From the age of Vincent Taylor in the 1850 Missouri census, the male head of this family (the oldest male, probably Vincent) is too old to be the Warren county Vincent Taylor.
The other Vincent Taylor family is from King and Queen county . This listing includes 4 males, one under 5; one aged 10-14; one aged 20-29; and one aged 30-39; and 4 females, one under 5; two aged 5-9; and one aged 30-39 . Assuming the oldest male to be Vincent, the head of the family, this family not only includes a male of the proper age to be the Vincent Taylor of the 1840 and 1850 census in Warren county, Missouri but also has a young girl of the right age for Miranda.
Warrenton, Warren county, Missouri, was made the county seat by election on 15-16 Jan 1836, and town lots were sold soon thereafter. Among the original purchasers of town lots that winter was Vincent Taylor . It appears that Vincent Taylor and family migrated from King and Queen county, Virginia, to Warren county, Missouri, sometime between 1830 and January 1836. It is not certain whether Vincent's wife accompanied him to Warren county; in the existing contemporary land records for Warren county, Vincent Taylor first appears as a grantor 19 Jan 1839 (with no wife mentioned), and next appears as a grantor (Vincent Taylor and wife, Mary) on 17 Jan 1842 .
In the 1850 census in Warren county, Vincent Taylor is found (with no wife), age 52, farmer, b Virginia, with Stephen B. Taylor, age 17, b Virginia . If Stephen is Vincent's son, born in Virginia, this narrows the time of the Taylor migration to sometime between c. 1832-3 and January 1836.
Vincent Taylor appears alone as grantor on a sheriff's sale instrument dated 23 April 1846. The only grantee record is dated 28 Nov 1853, where he again appears alone . Mary probably died between 1842 and 1850.
The last Warren county land transaction involving Vincent Taylor as grantor is dated 8 Mar 1855 and involves the sale of 37.5 acres of land in the NE 1/4 of SE 1/4 of S7 of T47 (N) and R2 west and 2.5 acres lying in S8 T47 (N) R2 west . No wife appears with Vincent Taylor in this document. This land is within about 1 mile of the land sold by Nathaniel and Miranda Morris on 20 Jan 1855 .
In the 1860 census for Warren county, Vincent Taylor, age 61, b Virginia, is listed with Criscillia Taylor, age 35, Geminah J. Garrett, age 15, and Thomas W. Garrett, age 11. Also present is Agatha Gile (or Gill), age 80 and John Collins, farm laborer . No record of a marriage of Vincent Taylor with Criscillia has been found in Warren county marriage records but it is assumed from the way the listing is given that Criscillia is Vincent's wife and that he married her sometime between 8 March 1855 and the time of the census in 1860.
Two of the four officials who performed marriages within the McCann and Taylor families include Thomas Bowen who married Polly McCann, daughter of Neal McCann, to Lawrence Lankford in 1836; Mary McCann, daughter of Jesse McCann , to Greenburg Humphreys in 1857; and Miranda to Nathaniel Morris in 1847. This places Miranda within a small religious community occupied also by a daughter and grand-daughter of Mary McCann, the wife of Vincent Taylor. In addition, Joseph Nichols, Baptist minister, performed the marriages of Delilah and Sarah McCann, as well as their mother, Mary, at Warrenton. [Another Taylor marriage by Thomas Bowen brings us back to a possible identity of the fourth female child found in the 1840 census of the Vincent Taylor family. On 16 Mar 1843, Catherine Taylor was married to William Brisco (Marriage Book A, Warren county marriage records, p. 91). In the 1840 federal census, the eldest female child was of age 15-19 and in the state census, she, along with the three younger girls were in the category of age 10-17. Thus, the eldest was actually age 15-17 at that time, that is, nearly of marriageable age. The only female Taylor marriage between 1840 and 1847, not currently identified, is that of Catherine Taylor. In the 1830 USCensus for the Vincent Taylor family of King & Queen county, Virginia, there are 2 girls listed of ages 5-9. Catherine would have been age 5-7 at that time. There is a strong suggestion that Catherine is this "fourth child."]
There is enough evidence at this point to allow us to accept the possibility that Vincent Taylor is the father of Miranda Taylor, of Warren county, Missouri.
In 1870 Miranda Morris is listed in Grant county, Wisconsin with six children and no husband. Nothing has been found concerning her husband Nathaniel's death or departure from his family. The last records mentioning him are those above: land transactions in Warren county, 1855, and the 1860 census for Warren county. No Nathaniel Morris of the right age from Warren county, Missouri, has yet been found in military records for the period .
Vincent Taylor died before 1 May 1865 when his non-testa-mentary estate was probated . The only individuals named in the probate (aside from county officials) are creditors, purchasers of estate goods and his widow Cecilia , who received final distribution of the remaining $10 . No other family members, including any of his children, are mentioned in Vincent's probate. One creditor by the name of Eli P. Taylor is mentioned in the inventory of the Vincent Taylor estate . We are reasonably sure of the name of one son, Stephen B. Taylor, listed with Vincent in the 1850 census. Earlier census listings certainly indicate that there are likely other children besides these two, possibly as many as eight. Therefore the absence of Miranda's name does not necessarily mean that she is not Vincent's daughter.
Stephen B. Taylor married Martha Harman on 19 Aug 1855 and is found in the 1860 , 1870 , and 1880 census listings for Warren County, Missouri. There is no conclusive evidence presented here to show that Stephen B. Taylor is the son of Vincent Taylor but it is interesting to note that Stephen had children named Nathaniel and Porter, both relatively rare names also found in the Morris/Taylor and Neal/McCann families.
If Vincent is Miranda's father, perhaps she felt less tied to Missouri after his death. This loosening of Miranda's ties to Missouri would probably be enhanced if her husband were also missing. As a woman on her own with children still to raise, she would naturally look for help from other family members.
There still remains the question of why Miranda might have gone to Grant county, Wisconsin, when leaving Missouri. Why not go back to Virginia? Why not simply stay in Missouri with her probable brother, Stephen B. Taylor?
The answer to this question possibly lies in her ties to other Warren county people, particularly women, who left to live in Grant county, Wisconsin.
An interesting but misleading piece of information comes from the contemporary Warren county land records. On 17 Jan 1842, Vincent Taylor and wife are the grantors for 237.40 acres in Sect 13, Twp 47, Range 3 and Sect 18, Twp 47, Range 2 . This record is the result of an action by Henry C. Wright in circuit court against Vincent Taylor for debt, resulting in the sale of the land to one Ephraim Riddle. On 11 April 1845, Fountain Taylor is shown as the grantor for the exact same property to Ephraim Riddle .
While it is tempting to deduce some familial connection between Vincent and Fountain Taylor from this information, other such land transactions are also found for "William Cook and Matilda Cook, wife of the said William" as grantors to Jesse Cartwright, husband of Sarah McCann ; for "Lewis D. McCann, and Maryann his wife" as grantors to Ephraim Riddle ; for Jesse McCann as grantor under a sheriff's sale to Ephraim Riddle ; for "Lawrence Langford and Elizabeth, his wife," as grantors to Ephraim Riddle ; for "Jesse Cartwright and Sarah Cartwright his wife" as grantors to Mathew H. Cartwright ; and for Mathew H. Cartwright (estate adm) as grantor to Ephraim Riddle . This chain of transactions, the last of which occurred in 1850, represents the disposal of the real property of Neal McCann, who died Apr/May 1836. In fact, by 1850, only Mary, Neal's widow, and Polly and Rhuhama McCann, of all of the heirs, have died.
Fountain Taylor and Delilah McCann moved to Wisconsin around 1845. The 1850 census for Grant county, Wisconsin, lists their second child as born in Missouri about 1842 and the third child as born in Wisconsin about 1845 . A land transaction which occurred on 11 Apr 1845 in Warren county gives the residence of Fountain Taylor as Warren county. Fountain's birthplace is given as Virginia. It is possible that Fountain is a relative of Miranda. Note that both his marriage and the marriage of Vincent Taylor were performed by the same man within two months of one another.
In 1850 William and Matilda [McCann] Cook , Fountain and Delilah [McCann] Taylor , and Jesse and Sarah [McCann] Cartwright , are all living close together in Grant county. Living with Jesse and Sarah Cartwright is Porter Neal, widower of Rhuhama McCann. Porter Neal later married Sarah Cartwright on 4 Sep 1853 . At about that same time (1850), William Cook died in California . His wife, Matilda [McCann], married James Bonham in 1851 . Jesse Cartwright is found in the 1850 census for California and he is also listed in Grant county with Sarah, although not as head of household.
Granted that her assumed brother, Stephen B. Taylor, remained in Warren county along with other McCann families, including those of Jesse, Lewis D., and John William, Miranda's move from Warren county to this remote county of southwestern Wisconsin sometime between 1862 and 1870 seems less astounding in light of the possible connection to the McCann relatives-by-marriage and/or her possible relationship to Fountain Taylor. Remember that the McCann sisters, Sarah and Rhuhama, ages 14 and 12, and Miranda, age 13, were probably living in the same household when the 1840 census was taken.
[One other item of interest which can be mentioned is that the name of Eli P. Taylor is found in the loose papers file related to the probate of Vincent Taylor's estate. In the paper headed "Invatory of the Effects of Vincin Taylor," a note on Eli P. Taylor dated 12 Jan 1857 in the amount of $832 is listed. Eli Taylor is found in the 1850 USCensus for Warren county, MO, as a 21 year old single man, tobacconist, living with the George M. Dyer family. (Please note that Nathaniel Morris sold land to James C. Dyer on 20 Jan 1855.) Eli was born in Virginia. In 1880, Eli is living in Grant county, WI, as a 50 year old single man, lead miner, living with Wm. G. Moody. Again, it is stated that he was born in Virginia and that his parents were also born in Virginia. There is a strong suggestion in these data that Eli could be related to the Vincent Taylor family. Remember that Miranda named her youngest son Eli.]
The connection between these Grant county families and Miranda Taylor Morris would not exist without both Miranda's assumed connection to Vincent Taylor and Vincent's known marriage into the McCann family.
Later, about December of 1871 , Miranda moved from Grant county, Wisconsin, to Iowa and then to Kansas. She travelled with her son William Eleazer Morris and his new wife, Anna Eliza Bonham, and Anna's parents, James and Matilda [McCann] Bonham. Other family members also accompanied this group in their travels. It seems typical of Miranda to follow her in-laws in their various travels and moves.
Though there is no known documentary evidence by which the parentage of Miranda can be proven, it is fair to conclude from the preponderance of the evidence that Miranda Taylor is the daughter of Vincent Taylor and an unknown mother, probably born 1826-8 in King and Queen county, Virginia. None of the available contemporary evidence contradicts this conclusion.
Back to publications | areas of interest | home