Is Rachel Ann Spear really the daughter of James Spear?

by | Articles, Bastardy Bonds, Craven County Genealogy, Mysteries | 4 comments

My 4th-great-aunt Rachel Ann Spear.

I really am enjoying the new and improved Ancestor Hints on AncestryDNA — especially now that they have the ability to color code matches into surname and other custom groups. One issue that keeps coming up, though, is suggested matches who may not have their data exactly right. 

One such case is Rachel Ann Spear of Craven County. I don’t think the information people have about her is correct, so I’ll try to explain the information I have here and I welcome anyone to comment below if I have something wrong.

On every census in which her age is given, Rachel is listed as being born in 1830 or later. 

  • 1850 – Says she’s born in 1830.
  • 1860 – Says she’s born in 1833.
  • 1870 – Says she’s born in 1833.
  • 1880 – Says she’s born in 1832.
  • 1900 – Says she’s born in Feb 1830.

According to the 1850 census, she was born in 1830.

According to the 1850 census, she was born in 1830.

According to the 1860 census, she was born in 1833.

According to the 1860 census, she was born in 1833.

According to the 1870 census, she was born in 1833.

According to the 1870 census, she was born in 1833.

According to the 1880 census, she was born in 1832.

According to the 1880 census, she was born in 1832.

According to the 1900 census, she was born in Feb 1830.

According to the 1900 census, she was born in Feb 1830.

 

Rachel Ann Spear’s first husband was George Washington Kinsaul. Next, in 1835, she married John Ireland. They have one daughter: Mary Ireland. The 1880 census reports Mary’s birth year as 1876 and her death certificate says her mother was Rachel Spear. 

Mary Ann Ireland was born Jan. 26, 1876.

Mary Ann Ireland was born Jan. 26, 1876.

So… If Rachel Spear was the mother of Mary Ann Ireland, she’d have been about 55 or so years old if she had been born in 1820 (as her tombstone says). Also, since James Spear was dead by 1825, he couldn’t possibly have been her father if she was born around 1830. 

More than likely, Rachel Ann Spear’s father was Guilford Witherington, with whom Rachel Ann’s mother, Rachel Butler Spear, is involved with a bastardy bond proceeding in September 1830. 

I understand in times in the past that it might’ve been a source of shame that one’s parents weren’t married when a child was conceived or born and great lengths were gone to to cover up such indiscretions (such as putting an earlier birth date on Rachel Ann’s tombstone), but these days, I think we all just really want to know who our ancestors really are. DNA doesn’t lie. 

4 Comments

  1. Amber

    Rachel is my fifth great grandmother! Thank you for the information. I was also confused about the dates.

    Reply
  2. Amber

    Also, I’m getting a bit concerned about some other info I’m finding about Rachel Spears. I found that she married George Kinsall Sr. who seems to be Sarah Kinsall’s father. I’m also finding Rachel married John W. Ireland who seems to be William W. Ireland’s father. So when Saran and William are married and have children, isn’t that incest? Has anyone else ran into this issue with the ancestory information?

    Reply
    • Sara Whitford

      I haven’t looked much at Rachel’s children, but I have that William was born around 1850. Rachel married John Ireland much later than she was married to Kinsall. It’s possible Sarah Kinsall married a son of John Ireland who was born around the same time as her, but who would be her step-brother. There would’ve been no biological connection if that were the case and so it wouldn’t have been incest.

      Please don’t take that as gospel, though. Like I said, I haven’t looked closely at Rachel’s extended family since I come from her half-brother, Lewis Spear. The above is pure conjecture. If I’m able to dig into it more I’ll report back with what I find.

      Reply
  3. Kathy Haun

    Sara, wonderful work as always! Thank you for this!

    Reply

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