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5 Ancestors Ago–Alfred Elder (52 Ancestors-At the Courthouse)

This post is a part of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge by Amy Johnson Crow at www.amyjohnsoncrow.com/.

This week’s prompt is “At the Courthouse.” Alfred Elder not only spent some time at the court house but also spent some time in the Penitentiary of Virginia.

Alfred Elder is my husband’s 3rd great-grandfather via:

  • his son, John
  • his son, Edd
  • his daughter, Annie
  • his son

The facts so far:

Alfred Elder was born about 1806 and married Elizabeth Jones on February 20, 1831. They lived in Campbell County, Virginia.

In 1840, they are living in Campbell County with 2 males under 5 and 2 males between 5 and 10. Three of the sons are likely Alfred C (1831), Burwell (1835), and John William(s) (b 1836).

In the October 13, 1847 edition of The Raleigh Register, it is reported that:

Murder! He stands accused of murdering his wife’s brother. What could have brought this to be? This is the only newspaper article I’ve found regarding the incident.

Alfred did serve some time in prison as he was listed as being an inmate in Richmond on the 1850 US Census.

Evidently, the crime was reduced to manslaughter. Elizabeth was living alone with her seven children, Alfred (19), Burwell (14), John (12), Lucy (10), Martha(8), Mary (6), and Richard (4).

1850 US Census

By 1860, Alfred was out of prison and living together with Joseph, Catherine, Martha, Mary, and Richard. I’m not sure who Joseph and Catherine are. Catherine is the right age to be Lucy. Joseph could possibly be either Burwell or John William.

It would seem he was out of prison by 1863 as on the 11th of September, 1863 Alfred Elder applies for pay due to his son Alfred C who died May 3, 1863 at Chancellorsville.

I imagine it was quite hard. Hard for Elizabeth to raise all those children on her own and hard on Alfred being listed as a convict once he came back. I wonder if she tried to live with him because it would be easier or if she truly wished to reconcile. Either way, by 1870, Alfred is living with the Rubin Pugh family and Elizabeth is living with her son.

By 1880, Alfred is listed on the census as a 75 year old divorced farmer. He’s living alone. Elizabeth is living with daughter Mary and family. She’s also shown as divorced.

The will of Alfred Elder is shown to leave everything to his son, Burrel L. Elder. No mention is made of other children or Elizabeth. The will, dated 16 January 1883 was entered at court during the February term of 1883. Evidently, he died shortly after writing his will.

Will of Alfred Elder.
16 Jan 1883
Campbell County, Virginia
Will Book No 16 p. 58 [Will Books 15-17, 1881-1893, Microfilm Roll #112, Library of Virginia]
Source: Ancestry.com User: pelderva

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