Pedigo, Frances Harper, of Hart County, Kentucky

It has been difficult to determine exactly where in the Hart Co KY Harper family our Frances (Harper) (Meredith) Pedigo fits. For years, the documents we had for her were few, as follows:

  1. Statements were made by several of her grandchildren in 1966 that she had an earlier marriage to a Mr. Meredith, and that her Pedigo children had a half-brother named William Meredith.
  2. Her 1835 marriage certificate, as Frances H Meredith, to Elijah Pedigo. The H is not written clearly.
  3. The fact that the witness at her marriage was Ransom Harper.
  4. One daughter’s 1919 death certificate that says she was Frances Harper. Berry R Pedigo’s death certificate said Mary Harper.[1] A recently discovered affidavit signed by another daughter says her mother was Frances Harper.[2]
  5. Her only certain census in 1840 with Elijah Pedigo, Hart Co KY, p 202: 101001/100001, which places her birth date as 1800-1810; Elijah was born in 1809. The children in this year were likely William Meredith, Jesse L and Louisa Jane Pedigo. Another son, George Walter Pedigo, has been claimed for the couple, but evidence points to his being from an entirely different Pedigo couple.
  6. The fact that in 1840, Elijah and Frances Pedigo were next door to Merriman Harper.
  7. 1836-38 tax lists, in which Elijah Pedigo was listed with four children.[3]
  8. The assumption that Frances was dead by 1850, when her children were spread among various unrelated families and her husband Elijah was living with Ellen (–?–) Pedigo, assumed to be his second wife.
  9. The fact that Ransom Harper and Jacob L Harper were witnesses at the 1866 marriage of Frances’s son Berry Rowlett Pedigo.


So where was Frances in the 1810, 1820, 1830 censuses? A daughter born 1800-1810 fits in either Hance’s 1810[4] or Samuel’s 1820[5] census. Or she could have been the Frances, “infant heir” of James and Mary Harper.[6]

Who was her first husband?  This is still an unanswered question.

What was her relationship to Ransom and Merriman Harper? Both Ransom and Merriman have been assumed by researchers to be sons of Silas Harper by an earlier marriage, since Silas married Elizabeth Taylor in 1817, and about the same time his probable brother Samuel married Sarah Smith. I assume that Frances may be a sister of Ransom and/or Merriman. So, who were their parents?


On 2 March, 2014, the solution was found at a letter written by William (middle initial unclear) Meredith to his uncle, Willis Burton Harper of Harrison Co MO.[7] In 1856 Willis received the following letter from his nephew, William J. (or T.) MARIDETH, who was in the gold fields of California:

Klammeth County California June the 26 1856


Dear uncle,`

I gladly Imbrace this opportunity once more of conversing with yu by letter. Altho i thot that yu had fergotten me. I am yeit in the land of the living, I have Not Received a letr  from any of yu cinc yu left heare with issak very strang that yu never wrot. I begin to think that yu Did not think of me often as yu would of wrot to me. Now I want yu to writ whethtether yu entered the land that yu said that yu wrot when yu got Home to me. If yu hav Not i want yu to git me a good Place and i will satisfy yu for it when I returne. I have had bad luck since you left here, But have now got a good claim and I think that I will be able to satisfy you for it. I want yu to writ where my sister is a living and who she is aliving with, and I want yu to tell her that I am acoming home Next spring if life and helth Permits.

Now I dont want yu to Faile to Procure that land for me and if you want the money before I come home i will send it to yu and i want yu to writ and let me no whether — the money that i sent Permits.

Now I dont want yu to Faile to Procure that land for me and if you want the money before I come home i will send it to yu and i want yu to writ and let me no whether — the money that i sent arrived or not. Now I want yu to write Every month and i will. I want yu to write whether yu heare from the Folks in Kentucky or not. so no more at Presant.

But remains your Nephew until deth.

Wm. J [or T.] Marideth


Now Willis Harper i wish to Be remembered to yu tho i do not no whether it will be recifted or not. i wold (would) like to sea yu and crack a joke. so no more.

Wm. B [looks like Alderson or Allen?]


O But Stop- Wm J [or T] and me is mining together and will remain together until we return Home.



The most basic facts obtained from this letter are that in 1856 a man named Willis Burton Harper had a nephew named William Meredith, and that William had a sister Willis may have known about.

Other posts by Nadene Snyder at include details about Willis Burton Harper, his parents and his siblings.

Therefore, we can assume that Frances in 1820 was one of the daughters in the household of Mary Harper, James’s widow, along with brothers, Willis Burton and William W, and three other children.


In Hart Co KY, there were several generations of Harpers living simultaneously in the area. It is difficult to tell where one generation ends and the next begins. Were certain individuals sons or grandsons of Hance?

Matthew was married three times and had 24 children. Since one of his daughters by his second wife was named Frances, and her marriage to Jesse Reynolds in about 1830 is known, we can probably rule out this branch of the family for the Frances under discussion here.

In 1820, Hance no longer had a daughter under 16 living in his home. His census for that year in recently formed Hart Co KY reads: 000011/00112. The unmarried son was probably Hiram. It is doubtful a married son was living with his parents, since all the known Harpers were heads of households in 1820 except Hiram and Robert. Of the five daughters in 1810, two or three seem to be still at home. Since known daughters of Hance and his wife are Rhoda, who married Romeo Crump 30 Aug 1812, Elizabeth, who married Archibald Crump, 16 Mar 1815, and Mary, who married first William Locke, 8 Dec 1814, and second William Vaughn, ca 1831, there must have been another female in the family in 1820. The other two sons in 1810 can only be guessed at.

Samuel’s 1810 census has not been located.[8] In 1820, he had a son under 10 and another under 16 and two daughters the same ages. These could certainly include Ransom and Frances.

Ransom’s accepted birth date is 1814. Isaac’s children’s names are known. Only Jonathan, Isaac, James, or one of the older generation men could have been Ransom’s father.[9]


Which Meredith married Frances Harper?

A posting at Genforum says: “All Merediths whatever the spelling from Hart, Edmonson and Grayson Counties in Kentucky descend from Joseph “Old Joe” Meredith who was born 1763 in Loudon County, Virginia. “Old Joe” settled on Rock Creek in Hardin or Nelson County, Kentucky in 1809, the following year Grayson County was formed and that area was encompassed in the new county. Old Joe built a flour or gristmill on Rock Creek. The deed for this a property is in the Grayson County Courthouse. A community grew up around the area around the mill became known as Grayson Springs.”

Several children of my ancestor, Berry Rowlett Pedigo, told me in 1966 that their father had an older half-brother, William Meredith, from the mother’s first marriage. This fits with the 1835 marriage bond of Elijah Pedigo and Frances H[arper] Meredith.

There was a William Meredith who lived in Hart Co KY with his wife Rebecca and their children. In 1850 he or someone else gave his age as 25, in 1860 as 39 (called Chas. but with the same wife and children), in 1870 as 52, and in 1880 as 40. Several gedcoms at identify the wife as Rebecca Caswell and say William’s parents were Alexander and Sarah (Brunk) Harper. However, the researchers who list this couple’s seven children do not include William. The only exception lists ten children, including “Charles William.” Modern Meredith family researchers may place this William in the wrong family, but I am still searching for the right one.

The only census that we know that lists Frances (Harper) (Meredith) Pedigo was in 1840 when she was listed as 30-40, that is, born 1800-1810; her son, if he lived with the family, was 10-15. By 1850, her children were living with other families and her husband had a new wife, Ellen. By that year, William Meredith was married with five children aged 7 and under.

Whom did Frances marry as her first husband? When? Most of the Merediths in this area are known, but Frances’s husband remains a mystery. Was he in Hart Co KY in 1820? Were they married already?

1820, Hart Co KY

Salley Merrydith            031100/30010

Wm Merrydith            000100/10100

This William Meredith was still in Hart Co KY in 1840 and then in Grayson Co KY in 1850 with his wife Frances, still living.

Was there still another Mr. Meredith back there in early Kentucky, possibly not even related to “Old Joe”?

So I am still looking.


© Kathy Alvis Patterson, 2008


[1] Martha Pedigo, no. 1128 (1919), Missouri State Board of Health—Bureau of Vital Statistics: parents Russell [sic] Pedigo and Frances Harper ( Berry R Pedigo, 8-104 (1923), Oklahoma State Board of Health—Bureau of Vital Statistics: parents Elijah Pedigo and Mary [sic] Harper.

[2] Affidavit in Pension Claim, signed 19 Dec 1916, Polk Co MO by Amanda F Bishop (posted at, Mrs Bishop’s death certificate says her parents’ names were unknown (

[3] Hart Co KY Historical Society Quarterly, III, 2, p 12: 1836-38: Elijah Pedigo, horse, 4 children, $30.

[4] 1810, Barren Co KY: Hance Harper: 00211/12201/00

[5] 1820, Hart Co KY: Saml Harper [Jr]: 100100/ 20100. Samuel’s known children were not born yet; this may be Ransom & 2 girls.

[6] First County Court Order Book of Hart County, Kentucky, saved from the fire that destroyed the Hart County Court House January 3, 1928. Judge H. A. Watkins had it in his office. This [typed] copy made by Roy A. Cann, 1955, 87. “Page 294. It is ordered that Isaac Harper be and he is hereby appointed guardian to Frances Harper, infant heir of James Harper, Dec’d whereupon he the said Harper executed and [Page 295]Acknowledged bond in the penalty of $100. Conditioned with Joseph Owen his security conditioned as the law directs.”

[7] “Letter to Willis B Harper from William Meredith,” submitted, 26 Nov 2013 by “Nadene13.”

[8] Possible sons Samuel Jr and Silas give clues to his location. In 1850 Samuel was 55, born in SC, and Silas was 63, born TN, so Samuel may have been in TN in 1800 and 1810. In 1860 Samuel said 71, born NC, and Silas was 71, born SC. Hiram was born 1797 in SC and is thought to have been a son of Matthew’s.

[9] Unless there was an earlier marriage for one of them.

Published on April 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

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