The Descendants of John Snellenbarger 1768-1837
John Snellenbarger (1768-1837), ancestor of the Snellens of Bullitt and Nelson Counties, Kentucky, settled in Bullitt County in the first part of the nineteenth century, and many of his descendants live there now, others have scattered throughout the United States. While his origins and parentage have not yet been discovered, included here is what is known about him and more than 300 of his descendants.
The Name. John's name was spelled variously as Snellenbarger, Shnellenberger, Shallabarger, Shellenbarger, etc. In 1802, he signed his own name JOHANNES SCHNELLENBARGER (Snellenbarger vs. Caldwell, case 40 , 1802, box 10, C-64-DO, Bullitt County, State Archives, Frankfort, KY). In another signature, this one from 1822, he gave his name as 'Johan Schnallen,' but the County Clerk wrote "John Snellinbarger" (Snellenbarger vs. Duvall, box 20, C-64-DO, bundle 53, Bullitt County, State Archives, Frankfort, KY). The Bullitt County tax lists of 1803 and 1804 gave his name as Shnellenbarger; that of 1805 listed him as Shelabarger.
An earlier, unrelated family of Snellens came from Virginia, settling in neighboring Nelson County in the 1780s, and it is quite possible that the clerks and census takers, already familiar with that spelling, dropped the "ch" in John's name and used only the "n." Although John never shortened his name (except in the abbreviated example given above), his four surviving sons did, and by about 1850 his descendants had dropped the "barger" and went simply by "Snellen.The exception to the shortening of the name is found by the descendants of his presumed son Peter who consistently went by 'Shellabarger" and its variations.
Occupation. John was a stone or brick mason, as shown by a suit he brought in 1800 to collect payment for work he had done -- including a cellar wall, two chimneys, and "chinking and dobing' a house (Snellenbarger vs. Caldwell). Also, masonry tools were included in the sale of his estate. At least one son, Zachariah, and one grandson, Lewis (son of David), were masons. As shown by the census records, John Snellenbarger also farmed.
Education. John could sign his name (albeit not too well), showing he had been educated to some degree, while the fact that he gave the German version of his name indicates that he had been educated in German, probably within a German-speaking family or community. His sons could read and write which probably means, considering the time and place, that they had been educated at home, and probably by their father.
Religion. Although no formal membership or other church records have been found, John's children, and John himself, were married in ceremonies officiated by Baptist ministers.
Date of Birth. Based on the Federal census records of 1810, 1820, and 1830, John was born between 1765 and 1770. His petition in April 1828 to be excused from the Bullitt County tax levy because of his old age, at that time usually of 60 years of age, would place his birth at about 1768 (Bullitt County Order Book E, p. 146).
Origins. John Snellenbarger's place of birth is not yet known. In the 1870 Federal census, none of his four then living children indicated he was of foreign birth (the first time this question had been asked in a census). In the 1880 census, one son, John, reported his father's place of birth as Pennsylvania (IL 1880 FC, Henderson County, ED 94, sheet 8). In the same census, another son, Zachariah, gave his father's birthplace as Virginia, while the listing for son Reuben, who was retarded and lived with another family, said his father was born in Germany (KY 1880 FC, Bullitt County). As a deed registered in Jefferson County, Kentucky, by John in 1805 (Jefferson County Deed Book Q, P. 338) included the clerk's note that the signature was 'written in Dutch" (meaning German), and as most of the Shellabergers in Colonial America were in Pennsylvania, it seems likely that John's origins may be found in the Pennsylvania German families frequently called "Pennsylvania Dutch." The southwestern area of Pennsylvania was long in dispute with the Virginia colonial government, and many of those living there considered themselves Virginians -- which would fit with Zachariah's statement that his father was born in Virginia. It would also agree with his son John's statement that his father was born in Pennsylvania, and would even account for the notion that he was from Germany.
Of the many, many Pennsylvania Shellabarger, etc., families studied, two are proven to have had Johns born about 1768. One family was headed by a George Snellenbarger who died in Bedford County, PA, in 1796. He was a mason and had at least two sons -- John and George, with son John first appearing on the militia lists in 1789, placing his birth at about 1768.
Another John, born 1768, was the son of Jacob and Magdalene Schellenbarger of Lancaster County. Jacob was the son of Ulrich Schellenbarger, born 1690, Switzerland, who immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1727.
While there of course may be others, these two families seem to be the most likely for further research.
Locations. John first appears in Kentucky records in 1796 when he was listed on the tax rolls for Nelson County. (All existing Kentucky tax lists were searched.) At that time, Nelson County covered a large area, including what is now the lower half of Bullitt County. He does not appear in any of the tax lists for 1797. The next record of him is in 1798 when he bought a lot in a newly chartered town called Middletown located about 12 miles east of downtown Louisville in Jefferson County. He was on the tax rolls for Middletown in 1799, 1800, and 1802. In 1800 he brought the suit mentioned above in Bullitt County, and by 1803 he was listed on the tax rolls there. Based on the tax lists, he lived the rest of his life in Bullitt County, although he retained property in Middletown until 1831.
Middletown Lots. There were three types of lots laid out in the new town: in-town lots 66 feet wide and 264 feet deep; half-acre lots surrounding the square of in-town lots; and, finally, 'out" lots of two-and-a-half acres. John invested heavily in new development, buying one town lot, three half-acre lots, and one out lot, for a total of five parcels.
In 1798, as mentioned above, he made his first purchase, buying in-town lot #89, later renumbered lot #1 (Jefferson County Deed Pook 5, p. 59). This lot-fronted on Main Street and was at the northwest corner of Main and Harrison Streets. Others buying lots in the new town included Frederick Pennebaker of Bullitt County, to be discussed later.
On 12 May 1800, he bought three half-acre lots (#36, #40, and #82), as well as out lot #13 (Jefferson County Deed Book Q, p. 338).
John was soon having financial difficulties -- judgments were sought and obtained by William Chambers (1801 - lot #13), Martin Bringman (1802 -lot #89), and Charles Quirey (1805 - lot #82).
John's Middletown lots were disposed of as follows:
1. Lot #13 (out lot). In March 1801 lot #13 was sold at auction to William White, who was the original promoter of Middletown. On 7 November 1805, John "Snaelber," then of Bullitt County, assigned his rights to this lot to William White (Jefferson County Deed Book Q, p. 338). This was the deed that carried the clerk's note that the signature was written in Dutch.
2. Lot #82. On 5 April 1805 lot #82 was sold at auction to Delaney Washburn (Michael L. Cook, Jefferson County Kentucky Records, vol. 5, p. 346).
3. Lot #40. On 19 June 1819, John Snellingberger and Sarah, his wife, sold lot #40 on the east side of Crop Street to John A. Carter, as discussed below. The deed was recorded 16 March 1820 (Jefferson County Deed Book R, p. 308).
4. Lot #36. John retained ownership of lot #36 (later renumbered #21) until 1826. There is no deed transferring the property, but by 1831 it was owned by William Pomeroy, according to the Jefferson County tax list of that year.
5. Lot #89/#1. On 6 December his only in-town lot, #89, was sold at auction (Cook, P. 351). However, John never assigned his rights to this lot 1 and, in fact, the deed was delivered to him 24 February 1827 in Bullitt County (Jefferson County Deed Book 5, p. 59). John paid taxes on lot #1 until 1831 when the Jefferson County tax lists show it as being the property of Frederick Pennebaker, brother of Catherine Pennebaker Shellabarger Staff, who was the widow of John's presumed son Peter (Jefferson County Tax Books 1826-1831, PHL 0008053). The deed transferring this Jot has not been found. However, as discussed below, it seems likely that following his son Peter's death and the remarriage of Peter's widow Catherine, John Snellenbarger set. aside this property for Catherine's and Peter's son Peter Samuel Shallabarger and placed it in the care of Peter Samuel's uncle, Frederick Pennebaker.
Land in Bullitt County. According to the 1803 Bullitt County tax list, John "Shnallenbager" was living then on 100 acres on Wilson's Creek, land that had been entered, surveyed, and patented by C. Shepard. No deed has been found whereby John bought the land, and he may have been renting it.
On 14 June 1806 he purchased 200 acres "including the place where said Snellenbarger resides" from General Matthew Walton and his wife Frances. This land was on Crooked Creek and near present- day Belmont, Bullitt County; it was next to land owned by John's then father-in-law Michael Deats. John sold 50 acres of the property to Lewis Duvall, who brought suit over the title in 1821. John's 1806 purchase was recorded in a confirmation deed dated 13 May 1822 from Walton's widow, Frances, and her husband John Pope, then of Washington County, KY (Bullitt County Deed Book E, p. 125).
By 1826 John was paying the county taxes on 350 acres on the headwaters of Crooked Creek. This seems to be the property he bought from Randolph Railey in 1828 (Bullitt County Deed Book F, p.120) and was the property he owned at the time of his death in 1837 and subsequently divided among his five surviving children. His son Zachariah sold or gave his interest to his brother John L., who by 1844 was paying taxes on 157 1/2 acres. In 1852 John sold this land to H.S. Craycroft (Bullitt County Deed Book M, p. 145). By 1844, according to the tax lists, 70 acres.had been set aside for their brother Reuben. Their older brother David seems to have acquired their sister Catherine's interest, for at the time of his death in 1868 David owned over 260 acres, which would have included 75 acres he had inherited, 75 acres from his sister and 50 acres he had bought from his grandmother Catherine Deats (Bullitt County Deed Book H, p. 327).
Court Cases. After he settled in Bullitt County, John was not often in court, a rarity in that time and place of disputed land titles. While there may be others, these are some of the few times he appears in the court records:
1800 - Suit mentioned above against James William Caldwell
1805 - Mentioned in the inventory and appraisal of Francis Shain's estate (Bullitt County Will Book A, p. 5)
1806 - Suit against James Chaplin for trespass. (John won the suit and then had to sue to collect damages.) (Bullitt County order Book A, p. 149)
1810 - Appointed Surveyor of Roads (Bullitt County Order Book 1810, p. 125)
1822 - Suit by Lewis Duvall concerning title and property, as discussed abovef.1
1828 - To be excused from tax levy, also discussed above
Federal Census Records. There are three Federal census records for John in Kentucky; searches in Pennsylvania have been inconclusive, probably because the 1790 Federal census named only heads of household and he was not at that time head of a family.
The first census naming John was in 1810, showing him as head of household, being between 16 and 45 years of age, with one 'adult female, also between 16 and 45. There are three boys under 10 in the household and one girl, also under 10.
The 1820 census gives his age as over 45; one adult female is 26-45 years old. There are four boys - two under 10 and two between 10 and 16. The older boy listed in the 1810 census had either left or died. The sole girl is not mentioned.
In the 1830 census, John is described as being between 60 and 70 years old. The single adult female is 50 to 60 years old. Two boys are between the ages of 15 and 20, and one girl, who did not appear in the 1820 census, is 10 to 15 years old.
These records appear to substantiate the following: In the 1810 census, there were John and his wife Nancy (as discussed below), oldest son (probably Peter) and then David and John. The girl would have been daughter Catherine.
By the time of the 1820 census, John's wife Nancy had died and John had remarried. The four sons were David, born 1808, Zachariah, born 181@, and Reuben, born about 1815. The oldest son, (again probably Peter) had left. Daughter Catherine had married and left the household.
In the 1830 census, there were John and his wife Mary in the household; sons David and John had married and set up separate households, as discussed below. Zechariah and Reuben were still at home. The 10 to 15 year old girl has not been identified.
Wives. John had at least two wives and perhaps three. (1) Sarah, mentioned by name only once, may have been his first wife -- or an error in a deed. The sole reference to heirs in the deed dated 19 June 1819, recorded 16 March 1820 (Jefferson County Deed Book R, p. 308), in which John Snellenbarger and his wife Sarah sell lot #40 in Middletown to John R. Carter. Both John's and Sarah's names are given on the bottom of the recorded deed. However, the deed was taken from Bullitt County to the Clerk of Court in Jefferson County by two of the witnesses, William Hardin and Peter Carpenter, who was the Bullitt County sheriff; Sarah was not personally questioned in private by the Clerk of Court as was customary in the voluntary sale by husband and wife.
It is possible that this Sarah was John's first wife and his wife at the time the property was acquired (12 may 1800). If so, this would make her his wife at the time Peter was born (about 1800). It also may be that this was a forced sale to satisfy a lien and that the niceties of property transfer were ignored. In any event, the 1819 deed refers to a Sarah, and John was clearly married to Mary Evans at that time. It is possible, too, that Mary Evans' middle name was Sarah, or that the deed simply was in error in naming a Sarah instead of a Mary.
(2) Nancy Deats is proven to have been one of John's wives and mother of at least David, John, Zechariah, and Catherine. Although no marriage record has been found, John's marriage to Nancy Deats is definitely proven by Catherine Deats' will, which also proves that John and Nancy were the parents of David, John, Zachariah, and Catherine (Bullitt County Will Book C, p. 467). This will is given in its entirety in Chapter 2.
Nancy Deats' parents were Michael and Catherine Deats who arrived at Mud Garrison, near present-day Shepherdsville on the Salt River, in the spring of 1780 (Donald Claire Hart, Descendants of Henry Hart 1750-1986, Santa Cruz, CA, 1988). Nancy was born after their arrival (all of her surviving children gave Kentucky as her place of birth) but before 1784, based upon her age at the time of the 1810 Federal census. She died after the birth of Reuben around 1815 (records vary), but before January 1817 when John married again.
As Michael Deats served in at least two of George Rogers Clark's Revolutionary War campaigns, all of the descendants of John and Nancy Deats Snellenbarger should qualify for-D.A.R. or S.A.R. membership. (See Chapter 2.)
(3) Mary ("Polly") Evans was John's last wife and his widow. They were married in Bullitt County 18 January 1817 (Bullitt County Marriage Record #1, p. 25). According to census records, she was born between 1770 and 1780. She may have been the widow of Phillip Evans (Edins) who lived on Crooked Creek and disappeared from the tax lists in 1814. Her dower lands from John's estate were set aside in 1838; no further record has been found for her.
Death. John died between the time of the October 1837 tax assessment and 18 December 1837 when David Snellenbarger was appointed administrator for his estate (Bullitt County,,Order Book F, p. 352). The bond of $400 was secured by David's brother Zachariah P. Snellenbarger and his cousin Richard W. Deats.On 30 December 1837 the estate sale was held; it was entered in the court records 25 October 1838 (Bullitt CoUnty Will Book C, p. 42). On 15 January 1838 land commissioners were appointed to set aside the dower for Mary Snellenbarger (Bullitt County Order Book F, p.-355). Her dower of 112 acres (approximately one-third) was recorded in October 1838 (Bullitt County Will Book C, p. 45).
David Snellenbarger, administrator, filed an accounting in December 1840 which was accepted 17 March 1841 (Bullitt County Will Book C, p. 142) and a final accounting 20 March 1854 (Bullitt County Will Book E, p. 172). The 17-year delay might have been caused by the fact that the estate could not have been finally settled as long as the dower lands were reserved, and Mary might have lived that long. However, Reuben's 70 acres were in a separate guardian account by 1844, and Zachariah P. and John L., Sons of John, were able to sell their inherited land in the 1840s, suggesting that the widow Mary had died by then. It seems more likely that the final settlement of John's estate was delayed until guardian provisions were made for his retarded son Reuben.
Burial. Although no grave marker has been found, it is probable John Snellenbarger was buried in the Snellen Cemetery that lies on the other side of Crooked Creek across from the Snellen homeplace near Belmont.
Homeplace. The Snellen homeplace on Crooked Creek still stands (1994). A typical log house, it has two rooms on the first floor connected by a breezeway or 'dog trot" and two rooms 6M the second floor. A kitchen "lean-to" was added at some time to the back of the house. It is not known whether the house was built by John or by his son David, but when John's widow, Mary, received her dower land, it included a house. The date "1848" is cut into a stone near the top of the chimney at the west end of the house, which could mean the house was built well after John's death, and thus by David.
John's son David lived there until his death in 1868; it continued to be the home of David's widow, Letitia Napper Snellen, until she died in 1874. Their nine surviving children sold or transferred their interests so that by the 1880s their sister Nancy Everie Snellen Dobyns and her husband Joseph L. Dobyns owned about 120 acres and their brother Israel owned about 100 acres of the homeplace.
Naming of Children. Usually children's names give clues to the identity of grandparents, but this has not been much help in the case of John's children. The oldest, Peter, should have been named for one of his grandfathers. He had only one known child -- Peter Samuel -- names which were not used again until much later in the' Bullitt County family. The second child, Catherine, probably was named for her grandmother, Catherine Deats, while John L. probably was named for his father. It is not known for whom sons David, Zachariah, and Reuben were named. It seems odd that none of the sons, or indeed, grandsons were named for their grandfather Michael Deats, who not only lived a long life but also was a near neighbors. However, there is a five-year gap between the birth of Catherine in 1803 and David in 1808 and certainly a Michael who did not survive could have been born in the interval.
Three of John's sons used middle initials -- John L., Zachariah P., and Reuben D., but there is no indication of what these initials stood for. With "Lewis" being a name that repeats in the family and with the land transactions with Lewis Duvall, one wonders, too, if there was a family relationship with the Duvalls.
Three of Nancy's and John's children (Catherine, David, and Zachariah) named daughters for her; two (David and John L.) named sons John. The other names which repeat in the third generation are William (sons of David and Zachariah) and Elizabeth (daughters of David and John L.). These may or may not be clues to John's ancestry.
Children. John's children, who will be discussed in following sections, were:
1. Peter (probably), b. about 1800
2. Catherine, b. about 1803
3. David, b. 1808
4. John L., b. 1809
5. Zachariah P., b. 11 February 1812
6. Reuben D., b. about 1815
1. Peter Snellenbarger. It is most probable that the Peter Shellabarger, who married Catherine Pennebaker in Jefferson County in 1822, was the son of John Snellenbarger of Bullitt County. This conclusion is based on the following:
a. John Snellenbarger and Frederick Pennebaker (Catherine Pennebaker's grandfather) both owned land in Middletown (Jefferson County) and Bullitt County, and were the only Middletown lot owners with connections (land, taxes, family) in Bullitt.
b. John Snellenbarger had an older son shown in the 1810 Federal census who does not appear in the 1820 census, nor does he appear on the Bullitt County tax lists, indicating that he died or left the county before he reached 21 years of age.
c. Peter Shellabarger appeared on tax lists for Jefferson County for the first time in 1821, indicating he was at least 21 years by then and thus born by 1800. While this Peter of course could be a newcomer, it seems likely that he was the son of the only Snellenbarger in Kentucky at the time, and certainly the only one with property in Middletown.
d. As discussed earlier, John Snellenbarger owned town lot #89 (later renumbered #1) in Middletown from 1798 until 1831. In 1831, Frederick B. Pennebaker, brother of Catherine Pennebaker Shellabarger Staff, paid taxes on the lot. As mentioned above, it is probable, but not proven, that John Snellenbarger transferred lot #1 to Catherine, or her son, and they as a consequence relinquished any other claim to John's estate. However, there are no records, to date, to substantiate this.
In any event, Peter and Catherine Pennebaker, daughter of John and Susan Falkner Pennebaker of Middletown and granddaughter of Frederick and Elizabeth Newcomer Pennebaker of Bullitt County, were married in Jefferson County 19 February 1822 (Jefferson County Marriage Register, p. 156). The Pennebakers had migrated from Pennsylvania in 1792; after buying property in Middletown, Frederick built a flourmill there that his son John operated.
Peter and Catherine had only one known child, Peter Samuel Shellabarger, born 15 January 1826. Peter died before 26 April 1829 when Catherine, described as the widow of Peter Shellibaiger, deceased, married Jacob P. Staff. Catherine and Jacob Staff had one child, John, born about 1829. Jacob Staff died or disappeared and Catherine's father John Pennebaker died by 1831. Catherine stayed with her mother in Middletown, raising her sons who eventually operated the family mill. In 1865, Peter Samuel Shellabarger, his half-brother John Staff and his mother Mrs. Catherine Staff sold all of their property in Middletown and moved to Fayette County, IL.
Arguing against Peter Shellabarger being the son of John Snellenbarger:
- There is no indication that Peter Samuel shared in the estate of Catherine Deats or that of John Snellenbarger.
- In the 1880 Federal census, Peter Samuel stated his father had been born in Pennsylvania.
- Peter Samuel rather consistently went by Shellabarger, that is, he did not use an "n" in his name.
2. Catherine Snellenbarger. Usually referred to as "Kate,' she was born about 1803. She married David Evans 28 May 1820. They had two children, Nancy, born 1823 and probably named for her grandmother Nancy Deats Snellenbarger, and James, born 1825. In 1835, Catherine sued for divorce (Bullitt County Records, box 33, C-47-C4, 1835, State Archives, Frankfort, KY). However, they were together at the time of the 1850 Federal census. Cathlerine was mentioned in the will of her grandmother Catherine Deats in 1837 and seems to have inherited land from her father John Snellenbarger in the same year.
When David Evans died in 1856, he left his property to their daughter Nancy Evans Brown, wife of David Brown. "Kate" Evans was in their household in the Federal census of 1860 and 1870 but not after that, and it is assumed that she died in Bullitt County after 1870 but before 1880.
They had two children and sixteen known grandchildren.
3. David Snellen. He was born in 1808, according to the 1850 and 1860 Federal censuses. He did not appear on the 1827 Bullitt County tax list; there are no lists available for 1828 and 1829, but he does appear on the 1830 list, putting his date of birth after 1806 and before 1809. As proven by the will of his grandmother Catherine Deats, he was the son of John and Nancy Deats Snellenbarger.
On 23 October 1828 he married Letta (Letitia) Napper (Bullitt County Marriage Record #1, p. 53). She was the daughter of William and Nancy Holtzclaw Napper and lived on a nearby farm with her mother and stepfather Ephraim Johnson.
David was the only one of John's children to stay on the Crooked Creek property. In 1836, he bought 50 acres from his grandmother Catherine Deats (Bullitt County Deed Book H, p. 327). On 18 December 1837, he became the administrator for his father's estate (Bullitt County order Book F, p. 352). On 17 March 1841 he made an accounting on that estate (Bullitt County Will Book C, p. 142). This may have been following his stepmother's death and release of dower, for on the 1844 tax list he was shown with 260 acres as well as being the administrator for his brother Reuben's 70 acres. Seventy or eighty of this would have been his share of his father's property; fifty acres would be that which he purchased from his grandmother; the rest may have included his sister Catherine's land and/or land inherited by his wife, Nancy Napper.
On 21 March 1854, he made another accounting on his father's estate (Bullitt County Will Book E, p. 172).
David died before 3 October 1868 when his personal property was sold (Bullitt County Will Book H, pp. 15-16, and 553). He was buried in the Snellen Cemetery on Crooked Creek. Only the name "David Snellen,' the beginning of the word "Bo" [born] and the inscription "Blessed are the Dead who die in the Lord" were left in the 1960s when the cemetery was recorded by Cora B. Maultsby. This cemetery, but not this stone, is included in Bullitt County Cemeteries, vol. 1, by Mary L. Sabetti and Doris Owen, 1989.
David's widow Letitia was shown at the Crooked Creek property in the 1870 Federal census. In the household were her daughters Elizabeth and Catherine, her youngest son David, and granddaughter Harriet, daughter of her son William.
"Letta" died before 12 June 1874 when her personal estate was sold (Bullitt County Will Book I, pp. 447 and 451).
David owned about 200 acres at the time of his death. He had agreed to sell 20 acres to his daughter and son-in-law Nancy and Joseph Dobyns; this intent was confirmed by a deed signed by all of David's heirs in 1868 (Bullitt County Deed Book R, p. 281). After his children transferred their various interests in the property, by 1879 his son Israel held 100 acres and Nancy and Joseph Dobyns 120 acres.
David and Letitia had ten children, eight of whom married, and forty-two grandchildren who lived to maturity.
4. John L. Snellenbarger. According to the 1880 Federal census, he was born about 1809 and, as proven by the will of his grandmother, Catherine Deats, was the son of John and Nancy Snellenbarger.
John sometimes used an "L" as a middle initial, but there is no record found spelling it out and, indeed, it may have been used simply to distinguish him from his father. However, as mentioned above, with John Lewis Duvall being a near neighbor and perhaps a relative and with "Lewis" repeating in later generations, it certainly is possible that the 'L" stood for Lewis.
On 3 May 1829, he married, in Nelson County, Nancy Leach, daughter of Enoch and Letitia Holtzclaw Leach. She was first cousin of Nancy Napper, wife of his brother, David. John does not appear on the 1830 Federal census, which suggests he may have been living with another family, but he was not with his in-laws. He appears on the Bullitt County tax list in 1834 and at the time of the 1840 Federal census was living next to David Snellen on Crooked Creek.
As did his brothers and sister, John inherited one-fifth of the approximately 350 acrqs that their father, John Snellenbarger, owned at the time of his death. By 1844, as shown by the tax roll of that year, John had bought his brother Zachariah's share and had a total of 157 1/2 acres on Crooked Creek. In 1846 he,lused this land as collateral for a loan of $235 from Joseph P. Cox (Bullitt County Deed Book M, p. 145). He signed his name as Snellenbarger, apparently the last time he did so, going by "Snellen" thereafter.
John L. was the only one of John's children known to have left Kentucky. In 1852 he and his family were in Lawrence County, Illinois, where his wife Nancy died in February and their oldest son John E. Snellen died in August (Bullitt County Deaths, DAR Library).
After these losses, John brought his young family back to Kentucky. On 18 September 1852, he married Susan Davis in Nelson County (Nelson County Marriage Bonds). His daughter-in-law, Margaret Jane Middleton Snellen, widow of John E., married James Fulkerson in Bullitt County on 5 December 1852. John L. Snellen must have stayed in Bullitt County for a while for his daughter Katy Jane married Peter Duvall there on 4 September 1855.
In any event, by 1859 John L. was in Scotland County, Missouri, as were others from Bullitt County, including his nephew Lewis Snellen, son of his brother David Snellen, and Charles Hart, their Crooked Creek neighbor. On 4 March 1859, John Snellen mortgaged land in Scotland County, Missouri, to James F. Martin (Scotland County Deed Book H, p. 61), and on 21 August 1860 his daughter Letitia Snellenbarger married Thomas McHenry there. (This is the last time this researcher has found the use of the full name.)
By the time of the 1860 Federal census, John, described as a wagon maker, was living with Susan in Green Township, Scotland County, with only three children (Owen, Zack, and Elizabeth) at home. There seem to have been no children from the second marriage.
Scotland County was in the northeast corner of Missouri in an area much skirmished over by North and South. The Harts left and went to Texas; Lewis Snellen, who had married Catherine Hart in 1857, returned to Bullitt County with his family. In 1864 John Snellen signed an affidavit in Henderson County, Illinois, but he had moved to Allen County, Kansas, by 1867, for in that year his son Owen married Martha Ann Wilson there (DAR Kansas Marriage Records). The 1870 Federal census shows John and Susan living in Deer Park, Allen, Kansas. His recently widowed daughter Letitia McHenry Bagby, and her children (all born in Missouri) were also in the household.
By 1880 he had returned to Henderson County, Illinois, and was living next to his widowed daughter May Elizabeth Bice. No probate or other death record has been found for him.
John and Nancy had seven children, five of whom are known to have married, and fourteen grandchildren.
6. Zechariah P. Snellen. 'Zach" is the only one of John's children for whom there is an exact date of birth and death: he was born 11 February 1812 and died 21 May 1894.
He married Charlotte Hoskins 20 May 1826 in Bullitt County (Bullitt County Marriage Records, vol. 1, p. 71).
Zechariah did not stay on the family homeplace, but he did not move far. In 1845, he bought 150 acres from R.N. Lee in Pitts Point (Bullitt County Deed Book I, p. 308). In the 1850s he bought four lots in Pitts Point, a town established at the junction of the Rolling Fork and Salt Rivers in the 1840s. The lots he bought, numbered 12, 13, 16, and 17, were on Main Street. Zachariah P. Snellen was listed as a builder and mason in a Pitts Point directory in 1860.
His two oldest sons fought on opposite sides during the Civil War; the oldest, Allen, fought for the Confederacy and was killed on the Battle of Intrenchment Creek outside Atlanta in 1864. His second son, Perry, served in the Union Army and died of illnesses connected to his service in 1866.
In April 1894, Zach willed to each of the following children "William, Caroline Cornell, Sarah Froman, Rowen Snellen, Nancy Lee, Scott Snellen, Sylvester L. Snellen, Detha Snellen and Addie Shepard $5.00. All that remains to my son Rowan and daughter Sarah Froman to be divided between them in consideration they take care of me for the rest of my life.' (Bullitt County Will Book J, p. 184). He died 21 May 1894 and was buried in his family cemetery on the Rolling Fork farm, later to become part of Fort Knox.
His widow Charlotte was living at the homeplace with their son Sylvester at the time of the 1900 Federal census, but by then the farm was owned by her son-in-law Richard Shepard.
They had at least fourteen children, but only eight married; apparently there were only seven grandchildren who lived to maturity.
6. Reuben D. Snellen. Reuben was the child of John Snellenbarger and probably his wife Nancy Deats. His year of birth is given variously as 1817 (1850 Federal census), 1815 (1860 and 1870 Federal censuses), and 1814 (1880 Federal census). Although it is possible that he could have been the son of John and.,) his last wife Mary Evans, it seems unlikely.
There are no records found which spell out the middle initial "D," but certainly it could have been "Deats" or "Duvall."
He was not mentioned in Catherine Deats' will, but he apparently inherited from his father, as shown by a guardian account in Bullitt County by 1844 for 70 acres. His brother David was the administrator for the account. A deed drawn in 1879 by heirs of David Snellen had as one landmark a "stump said to be a corner of the old Reuben Snellen tract' (Bullitt County Deed Book W, p. 320, Joseph L. Dobyns & wife/Israel Snellen).
According to the 1880 Federal census, Reuben was an idiot, retarded, and half blind. However, these same records show him as a laborer, and his great-nephew, Allen Howard Snellen (the compiler's grandfather), told stories of going hunting with him.
Reuben never married. In the 1840 Federal census, he was probably the male age 20-30 in the household of David Snellen. In the 1850 census, he was living in the household of David and Nancy Evans Brown. Nancy was his niece, being the daughter of his sister Catherine Snellen Evans.
in the censuses of 1860, 1870, and 1880 he was shown in the household of James and Elizabeth Heavenhill Carpenter. James Carpenter was the Clerk of Court for Bullitt County and lived at Belmont and, perhaps, as Reuben was a Ward of the State, he came into the care of the Clerk. However, James Carpenter died in 1884 and David Brown (Reuben's niece's husband as explained above) petitioned the court that he "be appointed Committee of Reuben Snellen, an idiot, instead of James M. Carpenter, deceased" (Bullitt County Order Book L, p. 413, 2 June 1884).
The date and place of Reuben's death are unknown.
Questions. In addition to the "unknowns" already mentioned, there are any numbers of loose ends in the study of this family. Some of them are:
1. Who was the 10 to 15 year old girl in John's household at the time of the 1830 Federal census? She did not appear in the 1820 census, nor in that of 1840. Was she a child of John's marriage of Mary Evans? Or was she a servant?
2. Who was the E. Snellenbarger who bought a set of andirons at the sale of John's personal property in 1837? Was she the girl discussed above? Or was this a clerk's error?
3. Who was the John S. Snellen who married Evaline Pearson in Jefferson County in 1841? In 1843, they granted to William McFadden their interest in 43 acres in the estate of Burbage Casey (Jefferson County Deed Book 3, p. 289). This John S. Snellen would have been born at least by 1820.
4. Was there a family relationship with James A. Carpenter, Clerk of Court for Bullitt County? He lived in nearby Belmont; Reuben Snellen was in his household for more than 20 years; in 1868 James Carpenter was the appraiser of David Snellen's estate; he bought "yoke cattle" (oxen) at the sale of David's estate. When John Snellenbarger sold Lot #40 in Middletown 19 June 1819, one of the witnesses was a Peter Carpenter, Bullitt County Sheriff, who also delivered the deed to the Jefferson County Clerk almost a year later - 15 March 1820 (Jefferson County Deed Book R, p. 308).
5. Was there a family relationship with Elias Hardin? He appeared on Crooked Creek in the 1870s; bought land from Israel and Valentine Snellen; sold land to Lydia, Valentine's widow; buried his first wife in the Snellen Cemetery, and witnessed Eliza G. Snellen's marriage to Charles Waters -- all before he married Louisa Snellen, daughter of George Washington Snellen, in June of 1882.
6. Was there a family relationship with John Lewis Duvall? They were near neighbors, John Snellenbarger sold him land, John Snellenbarger named a son John L., and David Snellen named a son Lewis, as did David's son William.
Last modified: Monday October 15, 2001.