Problems in Tarvin History

In researching the history of Tarvins in America, certain problems arise that focus researchers' attention until they are solved. Here is a short list of problems that researchers are currently focusing on.

Problem 1: Who was Ann Stanton?
Problem 2: Who was William Tarvin?
Problem 3: Where is Reverend George Tarvin buried?
Problem 4: Which child of Reverend George is Number Four?
Problem 5: What happened to the female lines?
Problem 6: What is the correct birth order of John C. Tarvin family?
Problem 7: George L. Tarvin, Mystery Line
Problem 8: Mystery: Who was Tarvin Pairish?
Problem 9: Who was Mary Wood?
Problem 10: Who was "HMR Whaley"?
Problem 11: Who was Nancy Ann Tarvin?

Problem 1: Who was Ann Stanton?

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 13 Oct 1997.

George Tarvin (George II in Tarvin genealogies) was born about 1721 to Richard Tarvin and Elizabeth Dent and married Eleanor Mudd about 1741, according to family tradition. (See The Origin of the Tarvin Family in America.) Three children were born to this union but George died by 1750 and his wife died shortly thereafter, leaving the children orphans at the following ages:

Richard Tarvin, age 8, born about 1742.
George Tarvin (called here George III or Reverend George) age 6, born about 1744.
Nancy Tarvin, age 4, born about 1746.
These children were probably raised by their aunts who would have been sisters and sisters-in-law to George or his wife. After young George grew up and married, he named his first daughter Eleanor Tarvin and his second Ann Stanton Tarvin. The name Ann Stanton also shows up in subsequent generations suggesting that George's mother was actually an Ann Stanton.

One possible solution to this problem is that one of the aunts who raised these children was named Ann Stanton, whose personality so impressed these young children that they counted her as a second mother. However, the records available to me do not show the spouses of the siblings of George II so I can't verify this theory.

Possible Answer
Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 10 JAN 1998.

Here is a more logical explanation:

James Pyles of Maysville, Kentucky, a long-time researcher of his Craycraft ancestry, has shed some light on this problem. It is his contention that Sarah Craycraft, wife of Reverend George, is actually the sister of Joseph Craycraft who married Margaret Bowles, the couple the Tarvin Family Association has listed as Sarah's parents. Sarah and Joseph's father, according to Pyles' research, was Joseph Craycraft, born about 1706, who immigrated to America from Lincolnshire, England, either 1720 or 1732 with his parents. It is his contention that this Joseph's wife was named Ann Stanley or Stanton. A land record showed that a Joseph Craycraft and wife Ann sold land in Frederick Co., Maryland, in August 21, 1761, to Josiah Harper. His source for this early information is the Dr. Charles Craycraft family of Pennsylvania. In an interview in October 1996, Mr. Pyles said that he was no longer in contact with that branch of the family.

This theory appears reasonable in the following way. If Ann Stanton was Sarah Craycraft's mother, then Sarah's naming her second daughter after her own mother would appear justified inasmuch as the first daughter was named after Reverend George's mother, Eleanor Mudd. This would also account for this name appearing several times in the next generation.

This is the first logical explanation of this genealogical problem. The speculation that the name came from one of Reverend George's aunts or a hitherto undiscovered step-mother never had a basis in any research. Still, there is no firm proof that Sarah's mother was named Ann Stanton. The answer might come from further research in Maryland or England.

Here is the first generation Craycraft family, according to James L. Pyles:

Father: Joseph Craycraft, b. abt 1706, Lincolnshire, England
Mother: Ann Stanley or Stanton
Md: abt 1735-1739
Children: (Note: all dates approximate)
1. Joseph Craycraft, b. 1738, md. (1) Margaret Bowel (2) Eunice
2. William Craycraft, b. 1740, md. Sarah Bowel
3. Samuel Craycraft, b. 1742, md. Elizabeth
4. Charles Craycraft, b. 1746, md. Eleanor Atkinson
5. Sarah Craycraft, b. 1747, md. George Tarvin (This is Rev. George.)
6. Thomas Craycraft, b. 1750, md. Rebecca
Pyles' records show that each of these children named a son Joseph and that four of them named a daughter Ann or some variation of Ann.

If the Tarvin Family Association accepts this theory, it must revise the published ancestry of Sarah Craycraft. Currently, we show Sarah's parents as Joseph and Margaret Bowells. (This is an error of generations due to similar names; we've made such errors before.) Instead, after due research, we should show her parents as Joseph and Ann.

If you have any further information on this problem, please contact me at

Problem 2: Who was William Tarvin?

Posted by Walt Tarvin (, 1 Oct 1997.

The sixth child of Richard Tarvin and Elizabeth Dent was named William and was born about 1727. In 1769 and again in 1773, a William Tarvin applied for a land grant in what is now Columbia County, Georgia. Are these Williams one and the same?

I believe they are and posted an essay to the Tarvin mailing list on 1 October 1997 that seems to prove this contention. I am now confirming several of the sources I used to prepare that essay. Meanwhile, the essay is posted on line as Who was William Tarvin?. If you have additional information on William Tarvin or you believe I have sufficiently proved this point, please let me know at

Problem 3: Where is Reverend George Tarvin buried?

Posted by Verne Hoffman (, 13 October 1997.

Reverend George Tarvin was living in Augusta, Bracken Co., Kentucky, in 1813 when he was injured in a grist mill accident in Augusta. He died several days later as a result of those injuries. For a long time, I believed he was buried in the Log Union Cemetery in Fleming County, Kentucky. This cemetery holds the graves of many of the members of Reverend George's Dunkard congregation and I believe he preached at the Log Union Church which was formerly located next to that cemetery. However, I never was able to locate a grave marker with his name on it. Likewise, I believed that his wife, Sarah Craycraft, was buried there after she died in 1806.

Recently I have found that the earliest recorded burials in the Log Union Cemetery were in 1830, long after Reverend George's death in 1813. I no longer believe he was buried there, but if he was not, then the question remains open: Where was he buried?

If anyone has any information on burial locations of Tarvins in Kentucky as early as 1813, please contact me at

Problem 4: Which child of Reverend George is Number Four?

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 13 Oct 1997.

Until 1995, it was assumed that Nancy (Ann Stanton Tarvin Cowgill, buried in Greencastle, Indiana) was the fourth child and Richard the fifth. But a closer investigation of her gravestone determined that her birthdate was 4 December 1777, about three years later than earlier estimated. As a result, the birth order of these two children of Reverend George Tarvin was changed. Richard's descendants are now considered "Line 4" and Nancy's are now "Line 5." On the official Tarvin Family genealogies, the number of the descendants of these children was also changed to match their ancestor.

This "problem" is now considered solved. However, if you have additional information on the birthdates of Reverend George's children, please contact me at

Problem 5: What happened to the female lines?

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 13 Oct 1997.

Nine of the thirteen children of Reverend George Tarvin and his wife Sarah Craycraft were girls whose own children presumably took the surname of their respective husbands. Over time, the Tarvins lost contact with these relatives who did not carry the Tarvin surname. Now we want to seek them out and include them in the genealogies being produced Tarvin Family Association.

If you have any information on the following individuals or their families, please pass it along to me at

M.R. Whaley, who married Eleanor "Nellie" Tarvin either about 1790 in Hampshire Co., Virginia (now West Virginia), or about 1795 in Kentucky. (See also Problem 10, below.)
Elisha Cowgill Jr., who married Ann Stanton Tarvin in Mason Co., Kentucky, on 18 Mar 1794.
Thomas Cracraft, who married Elizabeth Tarvin on 30 Jun 1799 in Kentucky.
Thomas Parish, who married Cassandra Tarvin on 15 May 1802 in Kentucky.
Robert Freyer Carnahan, who married Rebecca H. Tarvin on 9 Feb 1806 in Kentucky.
Jackson Martin Harmon, who married Mary Tarvin on 23 Jan 1807 in Kentucky.
Jason Tribby, who married Sarah Tarvin about about 1810 in Kentucky.
Archibald Mann, who married Sabrina Tarvin on 2 Jan 1814 in Kentucky.
Reverend John Green Hicks, who married Martha Tarvin on 4 Sep 1795 in Kentucky.

Problem 6: What is the correct birth order of John C. Tarvin family

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 2 Jan 2000.

On behalf of the Book Committee, I have assumed the task of coordinating the compilation of the third book in the series of Descendants of George Tarvin. This new book will trace the decendancy of Joseph C. Tarvin, third child of Reverend George Tarvin, and Martha Cowgill.

Although I am not of this line, it is very interesting to me and I hope all those of this line will freely contribute what they know to make this book a valuable genealogical reference.

At the recent 1999 Tarvin Reunion, I received some resource material compiled by Shirley Brown and Earl D. Tarvin. Based on this materials - four large binders - I am compiling a draft of the Line 3 book. However, I'm running into problems that I cannot solve without help. I am soliciting your assistance.

Background: Joseph and Martha's son, John C. Tarvin, married Rebecca Tarvin, daughter of Joseph's brother Thomas and Deborah Flora. Out of this marriage of cousins came twelve children whose decendants are counted in both Tarvin Lines 1 and 3. We have already reported this family in the Line 1 book, but we have a chance in the new Line 3 book to correct some errors and expand on the limited information we had at that time.

However, I immediately see a problem in the order of these children, comparing what we published in the Line 1 book with what Shirley Brown has recorded. Getting the birth order correct in these early families is important because of the way we number the lines. Can anyone help establish the correct birth order of these children? Here are the two lists:

Children of 3.3 John C. Tarvin and 1.8 Rebecca Tarvin 

--as recorded by Shirley Brown and annotated by Earl D. Tarvin:

3.3.1 Jane C. Tarvin, b. 1832
3.3.2 Alford J. Tarvin, b. 1833
3.3.3 Elisha Fletcher Tarvin b. 1835
3.3.4 Henry B. Tarvin, b. 1838
3.3.5 Mary Florence Tarvin, b. 1840
3.3.6 Samuel Ezra Tarvin, b. 1842
3.3.7 Milton D. Tarvin, b. Apr 1844
3.3.8 Carey Tarvin, b. ca. 1845-46
3.3.9 Martha Tarvin, b. ca 1845-1847
3.3.10 Joseph Tarvin, b. 1847
3.3.11 James S. Tarvin, b. 7 Jul 1849
3.3.12 Bona Pierce Tarvin, b. 19 May 1852

--as published in Line 1 Book:

1.8.1 Jane Elizabeth Tarvin, b. 12 Apr 1831
1.8.2 Martha Tarvin, b. ca. 1832
1.8.3 Alfred J. Tarvin, b. Nov 1832
1.8.4 Elisha Fletcher Tarvin,  b. 25 Sep 1835
1.8.5 Milton G. Tarvin, b. ca. 1836
1.8.6 Henry B. Tarvin, b. ca 1838
1.8.7 Mary Florence Tarvin, b. 14 May 1840
1.8.8 Carey Tarvin, b. ca. 1841
1.8.9 Samuel Ezra Tarvin, b. 3 Apr 1842
1.8.10 Joseph G. Tarvin, b. Apr 1848
1.8.11 James S. Tarvin, b. 7 Jul 1849
1.8.12 Bona Pearce Tarvin b. 19 May 1852
Additional information added by Earl D. Tarvin: He says that no census shows Martha and Carey in this family and he suspects they died in childhood and they had no descendants. Still, we need to be able to determine in which order these children were born.

I've already had one suggestion to put the two infants at the end of the list and number the others as follows:

3.3.1 Jane C. Tarvin, b. 1832
3.3.2 Alford J. Tarvin, b. 1833
3.3.3 Elisha Fletcher Tarvin b. 1835
3.3.4 Henry B. Tarvin, b. 1838
3.3.5 Mary Florence Tarvin, b. 1840
3.3.6 Samuel Ezra Tarvin, b. 1842
3.3.7 Milton D. Tarvin, b. Apr 1844
3.3.8 Joseph Tarvin, b. 1847
3.3.9 James S. Tarvin, b. 7 Jul 1849
3.3.10 Bona Pierce Tarvin, b. 19 May 1852
3.3.11 Carey Tarvin, b. ca. 1845-46
3.3.12 Martha Tarvin, b. ca 1845-1847
Please let me know what your own records show and -- very important -- what is the source of your information. I will be sending other HELP messages as I go along.

Problem 7: George L. Tarvin, Mystery Line

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 11 Mar 2000.

As you know, I'm coordinating the preparation of the Line 3 Book covering the descendants of Joseph C. Tarvin, the third child of Reverend George Tarvin, and Martha Cowgill, Joseph's wife. I am working from material compiled by Shirley Brown from many sources.

We have rich sources of material for most of Joseph's children, but the family of Joseph's sixth child, George L. Tarvin, is poorly documented. The main source for this line is a 1979 letter written to Earl D. Tarvin by Dorothy M. Shaw of California, Kentucky. In the letter, she outlines early family members based on information she gathered from Civil War Pension records, cemetery records, and Campbell Co. deeds. She wrote that she was a descendant of George L. Tarvin but she didn't carry any line down far enough to show her connection. Earl wrote Shirley that he can't figure out how she fit into the family.

Based on that letter, the following is all we have on this Tarvin branch. I am looking for anyone descended from these people. Most of their birth and marriage locations are Campbell and Trimble Counties, Kentucky. If you are from this line or know someone from this line, please contact me. Also, if you know what became of Dorothy Shaw and her genealogical records, let us all know.

3.6 George L. Tarvin (1811) 
  md. 1835 Mariah _________  (1802)
3.6.1 James D. Tarvin (1836)
3.6.2 Nancy Light Tarvin (1838)
3.6.3 Richard Lemuel Tarvin (1839)
3.6.4 Stephanie Tarvin (1842)
3.6.5 Missouri Tarvin (1843)
3.6.6 Martha E. B. Tarvin (1848)

3.6.1 James D. Tarvin 
  md. first 7 Jan 1860 Sarah Margaret Laura Tarvin (1859) 
  md. _____ May

3.6.1 James D. Tarvin 
  md. second 10 Mar 1864 Elizabeth Mains Missouri Tarvin (1868) 
  md. Jacob R. Anderson Columbia Tarvin (1870) 
  md. Henry Remler George Tarvin (1872) Pearl Tarvin (1880) Frances Tarvin (1883) Amanda Tarvin (1886)

3.6.2 Nancy Light Tarvin 
  md. William A. Pryor Millard Fillmore Pryor (1858) Millard Fillmore Pryor (1859) 
  md. 23 Mar 1887 Augusta Virginia Eads Archibald C. Pryor (1861) Richard Taylor Pryor (1864)
  md. 10 Nov 1886 Eliza Melvina Nelson James Pryor Charles Pryor (1869)
  md. 1899 Mayme Rachford William Greenup Pryor (1869) George T. Pryor (1870)
  md Otie Cora Eunice Pryor (1875)
  md. Rupp L. Connor

3.6.3 Richard Lemuel Tarvin
  md. first Mary Jane Hall. Margaret Tarvin (1866) Amanda Tarvin (1867)

3.6.3 Richard Lemuel Tarvin
   md. second 1879 Elizabeth Colvin Rosa Belle Tarvin (1872)
 md. 1904 George H. Lasey Charles Lambert Tarvin (1876)
  md. May 1904 Carrie Thornton Alice G. Tarvin (1880) Elzie M. Tarvin (1882)
  md. 1902 Bertha Thornton Lemuel Richard Tarvin (1884)

Problem 8: Mystery: Who was Tarvin Pairish?

Posted by Charlene Talbot (

Tarvin Pairish is listed in the 1860 census, in Alexandria, Campbell County, female, age 15, living with Catherine Acklin, age 85, and Margaret Acklin, age 52. These two Acklin women are also listed in the 1850 census, and their ages are shown as 10 years younger. My guess is that the 15-year-old Tarvin Pairish was there to go to school and help around the house. My great grandfather Parish (Line 7, Cassandra Tarvin's son) married Rebecca Maxwell. Her eldest sister, Martha, married David Acklin. I can't figure out where Tarvin Pairish fits in? Did the census taker misspell Parish? Did Ed Tarvin overlook her when he listed the Parish children? If anyone has any suggestions, I'm at Charlene Talbot, 602 S. 15th, Philomath, OR 97370

Problem 9: Who was Mary Wood?

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 13 Jun 2002.

Following the death of his wife, Sarah Craycraft, Rev. George Tarvin married in 1807 a widow named Mary Wood who lived with him the last six years of his life. We find her name in the Marriage Records of Bracken Co., Kentucky, for 27 March 1807. After Rev. George died in 1813, his estate took over three years to probate. Mary, his widow, is recorded in the Bracken Co. Will book where she as receiving $12.29 from Rev. George's estate after all bills were paid. Other than these two references, Tarvin genealogy researchers have not been able to answer the question, Who was Mary Wood?

Nancy Reynolds of Tennessee recently wrote that she heard of the Tarvin Family Association web site and found Mary Wood's name mentioned. She wrote:

"I have a fourth great-grandmother by the name of Mary Wood -- and we have lost her. In your Tarvin research, has anyone found out any other information about your Mary Wood? Here's what I know about mine..."

Nancy then lists the following facts about her ancestor, Mary Wood:

She was born in New Jersey, the daughter of William Gardner, and married about 1785 a Daniel Wood in Morris Co., New Jersey. She had two children by Daniel, Joseph, born 1786, and Rhoda, born 1788. Between 1788 and 1790 this family migrated to Cumberland Twp., Washington Co. (now Greene Co.), Pennsylvania. Daniel died there in 1792. (Both the 1790 Census and Daniel's will put them in Pennsylvania.

After Daniel's death, no further record of Mary can be found in Pennsylvania. However, the children appeared in the household of Daniel's older son, their half-brother. (Apparently, Daniel had been married before.) This family later moved to Springhill Twp., Fayette Co., Pennsylvania.

In the search for Mary's whereabouts, Nancy has discovered that Mary's brother, Joniah Gardner, moved his wife and family from Morris Co., New Jersey, to Fleming Co., Kentucky, sometime between 1794 and 1796. Nancy Reynolds believes that Mary may have moved from Pennsylvania to Kentucky to join her brother sometime after they settled there.

Nancy also reports that a Mary Gardiner appears in the Marriage Bonds of Fleming Co., Kentucky, as the 13 Jun 1799 bride of Uriah Dale. She says that genealogists in the Gardner/Gardiner family claim that this Mary is the same as her Mary Wood. However, this couple had 11 children and both parents lived until at least 1834. This disqualifies this Mary from being the Mary Wood who married Rev. George in 1807.

We know that Rev. George Tarvin was a religious man who followed the beliefs of the Church of the Brethren. However, Nancy Reynolds does not have any information on the religious denomination of Mary Wood, but she believes that the Wood family in New Jersey were Presbyterians and perhaps even followed Rev. Dodd to the Ten Mile Settlements in Pennsylvania. She reports that Mary's son, Joseph, was involved in the origination of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Wheeling, (W)VA in the 1850's and that Joseph's grandson and namesake, her ggrandfather, was a Presbyterian.

Anyone with additional information on Mary Gardner Wood Tarvin is invited to contact Gary Hoffman,, or Nancy Reynolds,

Added 25 Oct 2005: It seems Mary Gardner Wood Tarvin Sarjent turned up in the news of Bloomington, Indiana, in December 1835 when her husband, the aging Rev. Able Sarjent posted a public notice condemning her and distancing himself from her. You can read this article and excellent footnotes by Dave Broadhurst (Uncle Dave) at

Problem 10: Who was "HMR Whaley"?

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 25 Oct 2005.

The earliest Tarvin genealogy, the tree drawn by Richard J. Tarvin in 1897, shows a small branch coming from Rev. George Tarvin that says "Nellie Tarvin - Whaley" and from that radiate three twigs, labeled "Cassandra," "John," and "Polly." (Click here for a closeup.) For many years, that's all that was known of the Rev. George's daughter who was named Eleanor after her grandmother, Eleanor Mudd. Later compilers showed "HMR Whaley" as the husband of Nellie/Eleanor. However, no one with these initials has been found. It has now been suggested that these initials should read "A Mr. Whaley." If so, then we shouldn't be looking at all for someone with the initials "HMR," but rather for a suitable man named Whaley. But who can that be?

The discussion of the Tarvin-Whaley line has moved to its own page. Click here to go there now.

Problem 11: Who was Nancy Ann Tarvin?

Posted by Gary Hoffman (, 5 September 2013.

The Tarvin Family research has long listed a Nancy Ann Tarvin, daughter of George Tarvin and Eleanor Mudd, as a sister to Rev. George Tarvin, who was probably born about 1746 in Charles Co., Maryland. We have indicated that she first married Joshua Taylor and then Jacob Reed, but have not traced her descendancy, time being short.

I was recently contacted by Donna Cooper whose family research on Joshua Taylor seems to indicate that he married an Ann Taverner, whose father, George Taverner, lived in Loudon Co., Virginia, where Taylor also lived. (The name Ann is often a nickname for Nancy.) This reasoning is persuasive, but not certain. See Donn C. Neal's page at

As to who married Nancy Ann Tarvin, Donna and her relative Lou Dyer believe that Nancy married Benjamin Simpson in either Charles Co. or the Upper Potomac region where most of Rev. George's children were born. In any case, Benjamin and Nancy Simpson appear in Campbell Co., Kentucky, about 1795, with six children. Their daughter, Hannah or Anney Simpson married John Callen 13 or 14 Sep 1797 in Mason Co., Kentucky. This marriage was apparently solemnized by Rev. George Tarvin but the bride's name was mis-transcribed in the records we reproduce on the Tarvin website. (We have made annotations to this effect. Anney would have been Rev. George's niece.)

Benjamin and Nancy appear in several records in the area until each appears to have died in 1806 in Bowman Creek, Campbell Co., Kentucky. Research is continuing on their descendants, including surnames of Simpson and Hesson, all neighbors to Tarvins in the area.

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Last Updated: 31 Jan 2023 21:26 UTC

Gary Hoffman