Person:FAWCETT, Joseph (1771 - 1844)
|FAWCETT, Joseph (1771 - 1844)|
|Person ID (Link to genealogy):||GED link I216|
|Date born:||15 Sep 1771|
|Born in:||Berkeley County, Virginia|
|Date died:||11 Sep 1844|
|Died in:||St. Charles, Missouri|
|Father:||FAWCETT, Benjamin (1747 - 1820)|
|Mother:||RIGNEY, Delilah (1750 - 1819)|
|Spouse(s):|| KEYES, Lucretia (1786 - 1850)|
|Fawcett book:||FAWCETT, Joseph (1771 - 1844)|
From Bill Fawcett's book:
JOSEPH FAWCETT, the son of Benjamin Fawcett and Delilah Rigney, was born in Berkeley County, Virginia (now West Virginia) on September 15, 1771 (Blum and Blum 1958; Elliot 1975; Letters from H Gauss & L McCluer to L Fawcett 1894). His daughter, Lucretia Fawcett, estimated his birth date as 1764 (Letter to L Fawcett 3/5/1894). Within a year or two they moved from Berkeley to Shenandoah and Frederick Counties where Benjamin Fawcett was an iron master and merchant. Benjamin grew up among Quakers, but by the time he moved to Shenandoah County and became involved with iron works (which manufactured munitions and used slave labor--contrary to Quaker beliefs), he and his family had ceased to be active Quakers. It is suspected they joined the Cedar Creek Presbyterian Church near Marlboro, but the early records were destroyed. Much of his youth was spent in Shenandoah County.
Joseph accompanied his parents to Tenth Legion in Rockingham County in ca. 1783. Benjamin left much of his property to Joseph in about 1801 when he moved to Bath County, after a decade of legal battles over his land and iron works.
In about 1793 Humphrey Keyes, his first wife, , and Joseph's wife-to-be (Lucretia Keyes) and her brothers and sisters left Keyes Ferry (on the Shenandoah River in Jefferson County, West Virginia) and moved to Botetourt or Hampshire County, where Phoebe died (ca. 1799-1802). By April 1802 Humphrey Keyes relocated his family in Monroe County (now West Virginia), and there on April 21, 1803 he married the much younger Sarah Hanley. His move and the death of her mother may have motivated the 15-year old, Lucretia Keyes, to marry the much older Joseph Fawcett.
Marriage and Children
Joseph Fawcett married Lucretia Keyes on the evening of January 25, 1801 with H.J. Gambill acting as bondsman and John Walsh of Harrisonburg as Methodist minister (Vogt and Kethley 1984; Wayland 1930:12; Marriage Register Book A). The Methodist service requested by Lucretia Keyes was held at the White House - Sign of the Green Tree in Harrisonburg (Elliot 1975). Lucretia was then 15 years old and Joseph was 30 years old (Family Bible). Joseph and Lucretia resided at Tenth Legion, just northeast of Harrisonburg for a few years before they moved Harrisonburg (Strickler 1928).
On February 2, 1807, Joseph Fawcett of Harrisonburg successfully petitioned the Virginia Governor for appointment as collector of arrear taxes in the 9th, 19th, 14th and 15th Brigades of Frederick, Berkeley, Jefferson, Rockingham, Augusta, Shenandoah, and Hampshire Counties (Flourney 1890:502-503). He also served as deputy sheriff and Overseer for the Poor (1793-94, 1796, 1800 [Usry 1960]). Occasionally Joseph Fawcett acted as an attorney in the local court, but more often he was in court as a result of charges arising from tax collecting and serving as an executor and court appointee on Estates (Will Records). Joseph Fawcett was also an Ensign in the local militia (Usry 1960).
During the early 1800s Joseph Fawcett surveyed land, and owned his own instruments. Later he encouraged his son, Lyle Branson Fawcett, to learn this skill (Letter 2/9/1821).
From about 1802 until 1828 Joseph Fawcett owned and operated a dry goods store in Harrisonburg (facing the town square on the east side of Main Street near Elizabeth) and resided above his white-frame store (1810 census # 130, 149). A porch extended from the upstairs. Across a small alley to the north were a 1.5 story home and shop of the carpenter, David Steele. On the south of Fawcett's building was the Swan Tavern of James Duff. Later it was enlarged to become the Spotswood Building. The McMahon's Washington Inn was nearby, as also was the store of Thomas Scott (Carr 1984:18). Both families played prominent roles in the lives of Joseph and Lucretia's children. Joseph made and sold his own beer and whiskey.
Joseph Fawcett and Lucretia Keys had 12 children--all born in Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, Virginia (1830 Census # 184/216), except the youngest who was born in Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia: 1) Abner Fawcett (1802-1835), 2) Lyle Branson Fawcett (1804-1838), 3) Virginia Fawcett (1806-1882), 4) Willis Fawcett (1809-1878), 5) Erasmus Rigney Fawcett (1812-1868), 6) Marcellus Fawcett (1814-1851), 7) Henrietta Fawcett (1817-1909), 8) Curtis Fawcett (1819-1849), 9) Lucretia Catherine Fawcett (1822-1913), 10) Niles Fawcett (1824-1862), 11) Benjamin Keyes Fawcett (1827-1870), and 12) Juliet Fawcett (1830-1831). Based on the birth-pleces of their children, the Fawcetts lived at various places in Harrisonburg: Graham’s Old Red House (1802, 1809), Smith’s Store House (1804-06), Rutherford’s Stone House (1812), a house purchased from David Kyle (1814-1824), and a house known as the Castle (1827). Joseph Fawcett is listed in Harrisonburg in various federal censuses: 1810 (p. 149 #17) and 1820 (p. 174: #11a, 13, 15-16, 17a). According to the 1810 census his household consisted of 1 male (age 5-10 years), 1 male (age 20-30 years), and 1 female (age 20-30 years).
Joseph Fawcett’s long-time acquaintence, Dan Bryan, described Joseph Fawcett as ‘a clear headed, strong minded, sensible man, possessing a heart of the noblest and most charitable & benevolent feelings & principles. He held many highly responsible public offices and gave general satisfaction both for his fidelity in accounting for public money in his hand, and in the exercise of official authority with kindness and humility. As Sheriff in a county of large population, he had the confidence of the court, and the affection & esteme of the people; as the Collector of the Direct Taxes of his District, under the appointment of Mr. [James] Madison over distinguished competitors, he stood preeminently high, pure and useful. As a merchant, in after years, he was too good a man for the station; that is, his benevolent feelings caused him to risk for humanity’s sake the loss often of outlays for poor or sick families, or needy individuals, and he suffered in the end considerable pecuniary loss by his tender sensibilities & great liberality in such cases. Joseph Fawcett was cheerful & affectionate in his family and social & friendly relations, had no malice in his heart’ (Letter D. Bryan to L Fawcett 4/25/1866). During the early 19th century merchants "went below" twice a year to obtain merchandise. These trips to Baltimore, Alexandria and Philadelphia required several weeks, and goods were hauled by wagons (Hess 1976:241). Such trips fostered close relations among the Stablers, Ramsays, and other prominent merchants that were eventually solidified through marriages by Joseph's children and grandchildren.
On February 8, 1820, Joseph Fawcett and his wife's brother, Isaac Keyes, obtained a grant for 10 acres of land in Shenandoah County on the west side of the South Branch of the Shenandoah River (Fawcett 1938:38). During the spring of 1821 his son, Lyle Branson Fawcett, lived with his Uncle Isaac in Strasburg, Shenandoah County, Virginia (Letter 1/21/1821). The Keyes soon moved to the Midwest.
By the spring of 1821, Joseph Fawcett was suffering financial hardships arising from his relations with Daniel Ragan. It is unclear precisely what the problem was. Ragan may have been a partner, or Joseph may have been a trustee of the Ragan estate, but it appears that he was being forced to buy Ragan’s property. Later (Feb 1828), Ragan appears to offered to buy him out. At the same time, Joseph Fawcett’s younger children suffered the whooping cough and Mr. McDowell left his employee to go study law. Mr. Sites may also have been one of Joseph’s partners.
On September 22, 1822 Joseph Fawcett was granted power of attorney by Culbert H. Spangler of Rockingham County to emancipate Spangler's slave, Jacob, as soon as Jacob earned $500 from hiring himself out. Jacob used the money earned during his employment by Isaac Cowgill (September 27, 1822 - October 18, 1824) to purchase his freedom. Joseph Fawcett acknowledged Jacob's emancipation at the May court of 1826 (May 1982:357).
After recovering from being ill early in 1824, Joseph and his son, Abner, traveled to Washington DC in late April or early May, where they visited Lyle B. Fawcett (Letter 4/24/1824). In mid-April, 1824 Joseph’s neighbor, John Bock, died in Harrisonburg (Letter 4/24/1824).
On the 9th of September, 1824 Joseph Fawcett recovered $1214 owed to him by Henry Pirkey. Pirkey’s 200 acres of land, livestock and household goods were sold at a sheriff’s sale held at Pirkey’s Mill and plantation in Rockingham County (VA Historical Soc. Broadside 1824:6).
In May 1825 Joseph Fawcett sold the town of Harrisonburg a fire engine, hook, and ladder for $100 (Rockingham County 4/1825 court: VA Historical Society Mss4/R5915a2).
According to Henrietta Gauss, Joseph and Lucretia Fawcett hired the best available teachers to educate their children. They also employed a white nurse.
Joseph was short with square shoulders, black hair, and blue eyes (Letters to L Fawcett, 1894).
Joseph Fawcett returned from another trip at the beginning of 1828 only to find that his family had moved into the Bushell house (see entry under Abner Fawcett for possible location; Letter 1/5/1828). This move may have been prompted by continuing financial difficulties. A neighbor, Benjamin Quinn, died and Joseph was looking around for new investment opportunities (Letters 2/13/1828, 3/3/1828). By the end of 1828, Joseph’s merchantile business in Harrisonburg failed and he moved his family to Staunton. By then he wanted to relocate to Missouri, to escape the creditors who were hounding him (Letter 2/13/1828).
Joseph's last land transaction in Rockingham County occurred in 1827, and his household is not listed there in the 1830 census. A son, B.K. Fawcett was born at a house known as the Castle in Harrisonburg in mid-November 1827. A letter from Abner to Lyle Branson Fawcett (2/24/1828) indicates that their father (Joseph) was bankrupt--owing money to Rader/Roder. He wanted to relocate to Missouri. He planned to advertise the sell a slave, Peter, and the balance of his property at the April 1828 court.
In November 1830 Lucretia's father (Humphrey) and step mother (Margaret Keyes) moved from near Swobs Knob in Monroe County, Virginia (now WV) to Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, with many of her younger siblings. Their move and her father's health may have inspired Joseph and Lucretia Fawcett to move to Missouri. It seems likely that the Fawcetts visited their Keyes relatives en route to Missouri in May 1834, after Lucretia's father died in Springfield (10/10-11/1833; Will/Estate 153).
According to his daughter, Henrietta Fawcett Gauss, her family was living at Eagle Tavern in Staunton, Augusta County, Virginia at the time of the birth of her youngest sister, Juliet Fawcett, in late August 1830 (Letter 2/28/1894; see also Joseph Fawcett bible). They may have moved there to facilitate the settlement of Benjamin Fawcett’s estate in adjacent Bath County. Joseph Fawcett and his family lived in Staunton from the summer of 1828 until early in 1833 (Letters 12/2/1828, 1/20/1830).
Joseph Fawcett never owned land or resided in Bath County, and there are few communications with his father after his father moved there (His younger brother served as Benjamin's trustee). During the 1830s Joseph Fawcett became involved in litigation in Bath County: On August 14, 1832 in the case of Joseph Fawcett vs. Robert Lockridge the Bath County Court announced that the decree against the defendant was reversed upon appeal to the Circuit Superior Court of Bath County (Court Order 7:90). On April 27, 1833, the Bath County Circuit Court ruled in the case of Joseph Fawcett, plaintiff against Robert Lockridge, defendant (Chancery Order 1:22), "This day this case came to be heard on the Bill answers and exhibits filed and was argued by claimants on consideration whereof it is the opinion of the court and accordingly ordered that the Bill be dismissed and that the plaintiff pay to the defendant his costs by him in the behalf expended". Joseph Fawcett lost and had to pay court costs to Robert Lockridge.
During the spring of 1833 (and perhaps for most of 1833-early 1834), Joseph Fawcett lived with Lucretia and some of their children (Virginia, Benjamin Keyes, Niles) in Callaghan, Allegheny County, Virginia. His sons, Marcellus and Curtis, attended Mr. Taylor’s school in Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, now West Virginia (Letter 5/23/1833).
During the spring of 1834 Joseph Fawcett, Lucretia and several of his children (Virginia, Henrietta, Marcellus, Lucretia, Niles Erasmus Rigney, and Benjamin Keyes) moved to Missouri. Joseph left his father's iron works and other property in the hands of his brother, Charles Fawcett. Joseph and his family traveled to Missouri in a covered wagon, passing through Cincinnati in mid-April, and then Portsmouth, Ohio; Madison, Illinois; and St. Louis (Letters: L McCluer to L Fawcett 3/5/1894; W Fawcett to J Fawcett 5/24/1834). Some of Joseph’s sons (Lyle B. Fawcett, Erasmus Rigney Fawcett and Willis Fawcett) moved to Alabama in the early 1830s. Another son, Curtis Fawcett, went to sea from Philadelphia and died in Panama. Several years after Lyle died (1838), Willis Fawcett moved to St. Charles to assist his father in his old age.
Joseph, his wife and some of their children lived in Franklin, Howard County, Missouri (5/1834-35 [Letters 11/2/1834, 3/14/1835). Franklin was the starting-point for the Santa Fe Trail. In September 1835 they moved to St. Charles where French was then the principal spoken language. Joseph Fawcett operated the Globe Tavern (St. Louis Argus 9/25/1835), also known as the Fawcett Tavern (at the S.E. corner of Main & Madison in the center of town). The Inn also served as the stage stop.
In 1837 James W. Keyes, Lucretia’s stepbrother, brought his family to St. Charles from Springfield, Illinois for a visit with the Fawcetts. Later, he mentions this visit and events associated with the Donner-Reed parties travels to California in a letter to Lucretia (7/1/1849). Early in 1837 Lyle Branson Fawcett sent his father, Joseph Fawcett, $100 credit in care of Archer & Ellison, merchants of Philadelphia (Letter 1/2/1837). The following spring, Branson died in Gainesville, Alabama (Letter 4/5/1838).
In 1839 Joseph Fawcett chaired the meeting of the Democratic party in St. Charles (St. Louis Argus 6/7/1839:3-2), and over the next year party meetings were held at his home (St. Louis Argus 3/6/1840:2-2). He also served as the postmaster of St. Charles (4/4/1836-9/1844), with his office at the St. Charles County Courthouse in the Stone Row (300 block S. Main: St. Louis Argus 9/2/1836:2-7; Wetmore 1837; St. Charles Cosmos 2/25/1965). During the early part of 1840, Willis Fawcett tried to persuade his aging father, Joseph, that moving to Texas and entering the hog farming business would be very profitable and worth the risk (Letter 1/29/1840). Nothing came of this venture until a decade later.
Joseph Fawcett died on Wednesday, September 11, 1844 at age 76 in St. Charles (MO Gazette/Republic, St. Louis 9/14/1844; Bowling Green Democrat-Banner 9/21/1844; Wilson et al. 1981:54; Lilly Ledger; George Sibley Journal; Elliot 1975; Joseph Fawcett bible). Lucretia lived for five more years before she died at age 63 years. They were both probably buried in the Old St. Charles cemetery, which was later built over by the hospital.
From A History of the Fawcetts and Related Families in America by William Bloys Fawcett. Used by permission of Dr. Fawcett.
This book was first published in 1996 and some of the information is quite dated. If you find errors or want to add updates, contact me, and I will add notes to the page.Copyright © 1996, 2007 by William Bloys Fawcett, Jr. All rights reserved. No copies may be made of this document through any electronic, photocopying or other means without permission of the author.
References on this Site
- FAWCETT, Willis to Joseph Fawcett - 1824-05-24
- FAWCETT, Lyle to Joseph Fawcett - 1834-01-02
- FAWCETT, Willis to Joseph Fawcett - 1834-05-24
- FAWCETT, Lyle to Joseph Fawcett - 1834-08-01
- FAWCETT, Willis to Joseph Fawcett - 1834-08-28
- FAWCETT, Willis to Joseph Fawcett - 1834-11-02
- FAWCETT, Lyle Branson to Joseph Fawcett - 1835-03-23
- FAWCETT, Willis to Joseph Fawcett - 1835-08-04
Mentioned in Letters:
Mentioned in Other Documents: