Hannah Mercer (c1740-c1773), Died at 33, 52 Ancestors #89

Hannah Mercer was the daughter of Edward Mercer who made his will on September 25, 1762, although it wasn’t probated until December 1, 1763.  In his will, Edward left several items to daughter Hannah.

“I give and bequeath to my daughter Hannah Mercer five pounds and five shillings worth of Puter the same being now in her possession. And also one bed and furniture thereto belonging likewise I give to my said Daughter Hannah Six head of young cattle the same being now in her possession which said cattle shall be kept on the plantation until they be three years old.  I also give her a side sadle and the Keeping of her mare on the plantation whilst she continues unmarried.”

The wording is a bit odd, with the phrase “being now in her possession” seeming to hint that she does not live with her parents, and therefore might be married.  But Edward refers to her as Hannah Mercer, not by a married name.  Edward, however, removes all doubt about her marital status in the last sentence where he says “whilst she continues unmarried.”

Edward also left Hannah his plantation if his sons Edward and Aaron were to die without issue.  One of the reasons this is so unusual is that Edward Mercer (the father) had another son, Richard, and another daughter, Elizabeth.  Typically all the males would come before a daughter in an inheritance situation like this, but in this case, no.  As it turns out, it didn’t matter because Edward and Aaron did not die without issue or before their father.  Still, this must have made Hannah feel very good. It perhaps speaks of a close relationship between Hannah and her father.

It was previously thought that Hannah married William Crumley in about 1761, because their oldest son, James was born in the 1763/1764 timeframe.  If James was born in that timeframe, then it looks like Hannah married sometime after Edward wrote his will in September 1762 and before the 1763/1764 birth, so Hannah’s mare didn’t stay on her father’s plantation very long.  Hannah clearly wasn’t married in September of 1762, nor, apparently, was a wedding imminently planned.

Hannah’s Childhood Years

The wording of Edward’s will, plus when Hannah began having children would suggest Hannah’s birth about 1740-1742.  We don’t know positively where, but we do have an important clue, although it needs to be confirmed.

Hannah’s youngest brother, Aaron Mercer, fought in the Revolutionary War.  His papers where he applied for a land grant reportedly stated that he was born in Ireland, although I have been unable to verify that actual information.  http://www.fold3.com does not have Aaron’s paperwork and service records, although he very clearly served because he is mentioned as an officer in several other veterans pension applications.

In Aaron’s paperwork, he doesn’t dirctly give his birth year, but working backwards, genealogists have surmised that he was born about 1746. If this is the case, then Hannah would have been born in Ireland as well.  It’s difficult to resolve Ireland and Quaker but we do know that several Quaker families left England and went to Ireland before coming to America.  James Crumley may have been part of this group, and Edward Mercer may have as well.  If Edward Mercer were Scotch-Irish, he would have been Presbyterian and if he were Irish, he would have been Catholic.  However, Edward Mercer is living dead center in the middle of the Quaker community.

Hannah’s mother, Ann was living at the time Edward made his will.

We know that the Mercer family was living in Frederick County in 1759 when Edward Mercer was on the Frederick County, VA rent rolls.

Edward received a land grant in 1751 and another in 1760.  The 1760 grant was located at the head of Babb’s Great Meadow adjoining Babb’s Mountain.  Babb’s Mountain (red balloon) wasn’t far at all, just a little over a mile, from Apple Pie Ridge Road where James Crumley, William Crumley’s father, lived, just north of White Hall.

Babbs Mountain

Unfortunately, we don’t have any marriage information for Hannah Mercer and William Crumley.

What information we do have is that William’s wife was positively named Hannah, based on her signature on deeds, and their son was named Aaron Mercer Crumley.  The middle name Mercer continued to be passed down this line to future generations as well.

Their Home

After Hannah and William were married, they lived on the land that William Crumley bought from his father, James, in 1757.  This land was part of the large land grant obtained by James Crumley and the southern 200 acres of that grant purchased by William spanned the Virginia/West Virginia border, right under that “10 min” sign below.

James Crumley land spanning border

On the map above, William’s land extended south of the border on 51/2, but they lived on the Berkeley County, West Virginia side of the border.  We know this because William’s will was probated in Berkeley County, not in Frederick County. William’s father, James, lived at what is now 3641 Apple Pie Ridge in Frederick County.

While looking for something quite different, I stumbled across the probable location of William and Hannah’s home.

I was able to find William Crumley’s land on an 1890 map by following the ownership of the Francis Silver land, as stated below:

Francis Silver acquired the William Crumley land in two tracts. The first tract of 62 acres before 1820. He built the beautiful brick house in 1821. The 1820 land book lists no house. The 1822 lists $1,000.00 added for improvements added last year. He purchased the larger tract from Abraham Waidman in 1829 (DB lost). In 1836 Francis Silver sold the brick house with 275¾ acres to his son Zephaniah Silver who had married Martha Jane Henshaw April 17, 1834. They kept the plantation until after the Civil War and sold in 1868 for $12,000.00 to John Hershey. John Hershey sold the house with 197 acres for $5,000.00 to Andrew B. Houck and Samuel Garver. May 1, 1876 (DB 73, p. 275). Samuel Garver and A. B. Houck sold in 1880 to J. R. Brown and Robert M. Brown (DB 77, p. 119, page 259). Joseph R. Brown sold his half interest to Robert M. Brown in 1885, who sold the same year to Charles G. Boyles and James K. Boyles for $8,100.00. Charles G. Boyles sold his half interest to James K. Boyles in 1919. James K. Boyles died in 1932 leaving all his estate to be divide equally between his children (WB 27, p. 386). Daughter Maggie R. Busey died in 1951. The heirs of James K. Boyles sold to James A. Lockard in 1959 who gave a Deed of Trust to Darrell K. Koonce.

On the following 1890s map, you can see the location of J. Boyles home at what looks like the headwaters of Mill Creek, just north of the border of Berkeley County and Frederick County, on the road that today leads to Gerrardsville.  You can also see North Mountain, an important landmark, to the left.

Berkeley county 1890

On these satellite views, you can see the same road today.  The house on the map above is about half way between the dog leg in the road north of the house and the state line ot the south, between the creek and the road.

On the map view of the area, you can see the same dog leg in the road and today, there is  Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, shown in green, across from this area.  The location of this cemetery surely makes me wonder if this was William Crumley’s family cemetery and if he and Hannah are buried here.

William Crumley land map

Moving to the satellite map, you can see the farms in that location today.

William Crumley land satellite

Moving a little closer.

William Crumley land satellite 2

Moving even closer you can see that there is a working farm in this location.

William Crumley land satellite 3

Unfortunately, there is no street view of this area.  The address of this property today is 3647 Dominion Road.

William Crumley farm today

This looks like the original structure.

William Crumley farm home


Hannah Mercer and William Crumley (the first) had five children:

  • James Crumley born about 1763/1764, married Mary Stonebridge by whom he had children, and then second to Elizabeth Downey. James died in Frederick County, VA after 1830.
  • Ann Crumley born about 1766 married Thomas Reese, had 9 children, and died on August 29, 1819. Ann had three daughters, Hannah, nancy, Rachel and Sarah.
  • William Crumley (the second) born about 1767, married an unknown wife and moved by 1796 to the frontier of what would become Greene County, Tennessee that year. He married for a second time in 1817 to Elizabeth Johnson in Greene County and moved about 1820 to Lee County, Virginia on the border with Claiborne and Hawkins County, Tennessee, where he died about 1839.
  • Catherine Crumley was born about 1769/1770 and married James Mooney and then John Eyre. She had daughters Catherine, Mary (Polly), and Eliza by James Mooney and daughters Hannah and Nancy by John Eyre. Catherine died on December 20, 1857 in Fayette County, Ohio.
  • Aaron Mercer Crumley was born Oct. 22, 1771 in Frederick County, VA. He married Jane Atherton on February 3, 1796. They had 10 children. It appears that Aaron first lived in Greene County, Tennessee and probably migrated with his brother, William (the second), as 8 of his children were born there and the youngest two in Ohio. Aaron died on August 18, 1835.

Hannah’s Death and William Crumley’s Remarriage

We don’t know for sure when Hannah died, but we do know that it was before William’s marriage to Sarah Dunn.  In 1774, after Sarah’s marriage to William, the Hopewell Friends disowned Sarah for marrying out of faith.  They first summoned her on August 1, 1774 to explain herself, which probably wasn’t long after her marriage.

Sarah Crumley Hopewell

They petitioned her again in September and October, but Sarah never explained herself.  The explanation was obvious.

Sarah Crumley Hopewell2

This tells us two things.  One, Hannah died sometime between Aaron’s birth in late 1771 and William’s marriage to Sarah in mid-1774, and it also tells us that William wasn’t Quaker at that time, in 1774, and so Hannah likely wasn’t Quaker either.  At one time, both William and his father, James, had been Quaker, and are mentioned as such in the Quaker minutes in 1759.

Ironically, Hannah’s father was Quaker too, and he was mentioned in those same records in March 1759, but in very much of a different light.

Edward Mercer Hopewell

Apparently Edward decided not to appear, so they discussed the issues without him being present.

Edward Mercer Hopewell2

Was Edward Mercer being thrown out of the Quaker Church a family scandal?  Was his drinking a scandal?  What did his wife, Ann, do when this happened?  Did she and the children continue to attend the Hopewell Friend’s Meeting, or were they too embarrassed?  Or was she angry and decided to attend elsewhere?  I would love to have been a fly on that wall!

Hopewell Meeting House

Were William and Hannah married as Quakers at the Hopewell Meeting House (above) sometime around 1763?  Were they converted as a couple outside the faith.  Was Hannah not a Quaker after 1759 and William defected when he married Hannah, in effect thrown out of the church at that time?  If so, why are there no records?  Maybe he just decided to stop attending.  So many questions.

If Hannah was a Quaker when she died between 1771 and 1774, then she is likely buried in the Hopewell Meeting Cemetery, shown below.  Otherwise, she would have been buried in a family cemetery, possible the one across the road from where she and William lived.  If she did die in childbirth, then the child was buried with her as well.

Hopewell Cemetery

Given that William Crumley would have had 5 children under the age of 10 when Hannah died, I’m guessing he was not single long. He would have remarried as soon as possible, and his second wife, Sarah, inherited 5 children immediately, and then added another 10 to their family.  She gets my nomination for sainthood!

How agonizing for Hannah to know she was dying and leaving her children, and there was clearly nothing she could do about it except pray that her husband would marry another woman who would love her children – or at least not be mean to them.  I can only imagine how a mother would feel leaving such young children motherless.

Hannah’s oldest 2 or 3 children may have remembered her.  My ancestor, William, born about 1767 or 1768 may have remembered her vaguely, depending on when she died. He would have been between the ages of 3 and 7.  In other words, the only mother most of Hannah’s children ever knew was Sarah.  Hannah must have loved Sarah from the other side for loving and caring for her children.  There was never any hint of conflict in the court records between the children of Hannah and Sarah, or between Hannah’s children and Sarah.

Given this situation, my best guess would be that Hannah died in 1773 having another baby.  The timing would be right given Aaron’s birth in late 1771 and William’s remarriage in 1774.

Regardless of what took Hannah’s life, it was horribly sad, because she was a woman in her prime.  If she was born about 1740, she would have been about 33 when she died.  Much too young and certainly not taken by anything “normal.”  Sadly, deaths in childbirth were much too common at that time.


The closest thing we had to proof that Hannah, William Crumley’s wife, was Hannah Mercer was the fact that their son, Aaron Mercer Crumley was named after Hannah’s brother, Aaron Mercer.

However, with the advent of DNA testing, I match multiple descendants of Edward Mercer through son Moses at Ancestry, and have other Mercer matches at Family Tree DNA.

Ancestry Mercer Match

We now have confirmation through matching and triangulation that William Crumley’s wife Hannah was indeed Hannah Mercer.

We know nothing more about Hannah, unfortunately, but since she did have daughters, if we could find a descendant who descends from Hannah through all females to the current generation (which can be male), we could obtain a sample of Hannah’s mitochondrial DNA, which would tell us about her deep ancestry.  That would be wonderful gift and is information not available any other way.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to all of their children, but is only passed on by the daughters and is not mixed with the DNA of the father.  Because if this, we get the opportunity to “see” the DNA of the direct matrilineal line without dilution.  Through that, we can tell where in the world Hannah’s direct matrilineal ancestors came from.

If someone does descend from Hannah through all females to the current generation, please let me know as I have a DNA scholarship waiting for the first person.  If someone does test, I’ll post the results here – otherwise, we’re still waiting.



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9 thoughts on “Hannah Mercer (c1740-c1773), Died at 33, 52 Ancestors #89

  1. I am so impressed with your reasoning ability in research and find it very interesting to read. Where did you get your program to do the maps in genealogy?

  2. Pingback: Edward Mercer (c1704-1763), Hard-Drinking Quaker, 52 Ancestors #90 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  3. Pingback: Ann Mercer (1799/1705-c1786/1790), Weaver and Quaker Mother, 52 Ancestors #95 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  4. Pingback: What is a DNA Scholarship and How Do I Get One? | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  5. I am a Messer with a lost line of brothers from PA. Father was Samuel Messer, he died in 1799. Two brothers are unknown. One went to VA and history books tell us one went to CT but not a clue who they are. I too wonder if a DNA test would help me to solve this mystery.

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