by Raquel Lindaas, AG®
If you read the previous article about Madison Stephenson of Owen County, Indiana, then you know about his scrapes with the law. He loved to gamble. On September 28, 1840, a Grand Jury in Owen County had issued the following indictment:
…Madison Stephenson late of said county yeoman, on the first day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-nine in the county aforesaid by then, and there, playing, betting, and wagering and upon a certain unlawful game at cards then and there played…
Yeoman means farmer, but it seems that Madison did not tend to his farming as much as he did his gaming habit! And gaming was not his only vice, according to court records of Owen County, Indiana.
Just one year before this incident, Madison showed up in the Owen County court records. In September 1839, a panel of grand jurors inquired into the domestic situation at the Stephenson home. They found that Madison Stephenson, yeoman, and Sarah Wilburn, spinster, had been living together without the benefit of marriage since February 1, 1838. Madison and Sarah were indicted on ‘notorious fornication’. Yes, he is my beloved ancestor, sort of. We actually thought Sarah Wilburn/Welborn was our ancestor before finding these court records.
Madison Stephenson now had the opportunity to make an honest woman out of Sarah by marrying her. They already had at least four children together, judging from the 1840 federal census. But no! On December 4, 1841, Madison Stephenson married Mary Minnix, right there in Owen County! Sarah Welborn is seen living with her mother, Lydia Welborn, in 1850!
I wonder if Sarah was heartbroken, or was she relieved to be away from Madison? We won’t know in this life, but I lean toward her being relieved.
Madison Stephenson and Mary Minnix had several children together, including Susannah, from whom I descend. Mary was the daughter of Jesse Minnix and Polly Henry from Virginia. They migrated into Kentucky and then Indiana. Some of the Minnix family that remained in Kentucky spell the name with one ‘n’, while the Indiana branch usually spelled it with two ‘ns’. The concept of exact spelling solidified in the mid to late 1800’s. Jesse Minnix had a deed of sale in Owen County, Indiana. The court clerk recorded it and spelled the name as ‘Minnix’, ‘Minix’, and ‘Menix’, all in the same document. It just didn’t matter.
Madison Stephenson is my ancestor, take it or leave it. We don’t get to choose our ancestors! But where in Kentucky did Madison come from? Who were his parents? Stay tuned.
Raquel Lindaas, AG®