The House They Lived In

The person who currently owns the house that Dionicio Ortega and his wife Sarah Jane Taylor lived in recently contacted me in hopes of learning new things about the house.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cool stories for them but was very happy they contacted me with new information.  They provided me with some of the paperwork that listed Sarah Jane Taylor and Dionicio Ortega as the deed owners of the house which I took as evidence their story was true.

They asked me not to share any of their identifying information which I agreed to withhold for their privacy (I am using the singular pronoun they/their to speak of this person).  This person was such a great storyteller that I’m going to share their words with you verbatim.

They started out with some interesting questions such as, “When I first moved here, an elderly man said that an Irish woman married a man from Tesuque Pueblo and moved into our house long ago. That sounds like it could have been Dionicio, and if so, he would have been Native American. Does any of that ring true? Do you have any idea what brought Sarah to the rough ’n tough New Mexico of the 19th century?”

I told them I didn’t know for sure, but on the 1860 census, she was five years old living with her father, her older full brother Isaiah, and her father’s second wife Geraldine Dennison in Missouri.  We know that Isaiah died in his childhood, up to that point they were the only living children from her father’s first marriage to Mary Ann Brummett, daughter of William Brummit and Sarah Evans.  On the 1870 census, she was about 15 years old living with her father and stepfamily in Cañon City, Colorado (as mentioned in the book History of Howard and Chariton Counties, Missouri).  Her stepmother Geraldine Denison died there in 1875.  My guess is she was coming of age in this radically different place and met Dionicio at some point as he was traveling.  Another cousin who rescues horses and mules has told me Dionicio was a muleteer on the Santa Fe Trail, but I haven’t verified it.  I do think they met in Colorado though.  On the 1880 census, she was living as Juana Ortega with Dionicio and their child Crisostimo in Cordoras, Taos, NM.  Almost all of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire.  Sarah and Dionicio are in Santa Fe on the 1900 census.  Sarah Jane died in 1927, Dionicio died in 1936.  I think Sarah Jane Taylor learned early to roll with the punches and was rather adventurous.  It seemed she was a curious person and was eager to embrace new places and cultures; I like to think I inherited that from her.

The person who contacted me about the house was an out-of-towner who immediately liked it and was lucky to have noticed it during a price-drop.

“A little investigation and it turned out it was because this was a “haunted house”. Neighborhood children wouldn’t go near it, and throughout the 70’s and 80’s no one owned it for more than a year or two before selling, due to all the bizarre things happening there. It was common knowledge that these ghosts were mischievous and frisky.

That was a great stroke of luck for us because we didn’t believe in ghosts. We bought it and the neighbors would shake their heads and say “You won’t stay long – nobody does”.

So that was [many] years ago, and we never experienced anything the least bit unusual, nor have any of the many guests who have stayed here.

What is now the main living room area was the original one-room adobe house. We did an extensive renovation, and when the floorboards were pulled up temporarily to put a heating system under there, I did some digging. A couple of inches down I found a lime-coated floor, and that was probably what was there when Sarah Jane and Dionicio moved in. They may have later put in the wood planks that are still there because they are very old. Two inches beneath the lime floor was another floor made of animal blood mixed with dirt, which makes for a linoleum-like surface. Nobody knows how old this place really is.

Our guest room used to be a detached stable, and when it rained we could still smell the animals that your ancestors kept there. I carved a niche into one of the adobe walls and found a donkey’s jawbone embedded in it.

Although plumbing had been installed by the 1950’s, the original outhouse for the house was still standing in one corner of the property when we moved in. We had to remove it to build [further]. You can still see the remains of a well that was the main water source for the house all those years ago. But you would have to lift the brick pavers in our courtyard and dig down about a foot to find it.
I also found a horseshoe and some smaller animal bones in that wall. All of the old adobe walls are 2 feet thick, so who knows what else is in there?”

I forgot to mention that when I dug down and found those 2 layers of flooring, I kept digging. About 2 feet down I found pottery shards in typical black and white patterns for Native Americans in this area. So people have been living on this spot for a VERY long time.”

I asked about using their stories on this blog:

“Using this info on your blog is okay if there is some way to discourage people from googling around to find me and then show up at my door.” So I am not giving out the address or the name of the person who contacted me, just passing along the story.

I can’t express how grateful I am to have been able to receive these stories as it’s put a little more flesh on my ancestors’ bones.  I feel a little closer to knowing them and their personalities now.

Ortega House email


Catherine Lewis of Middlesex County, Virginia married to William Hayes

In my last post, I wrote about Barry Lee Marston’s very helpful book Marsten Book/Marston Plantation.  It turns out that Barry is a relative!

Triangulator extension Marston
Barry Lee Marston, his relative, and my grandmother share two segments above 7 cM on chromosome 4. This was calculated using Goran Runfeldt’s new Triangulator App.

About Goran’s app

Barry is so nice and very helpful; he put me in touch with Judie King who is also awesome and helpful.  I felt a little apprehensive since, as I mentioned in my email, I’ve heavily used their work to help me leaf-out this branch of the family tree once I established a tie to Millie Lewis’ family in Northampton County, North Carolina.  All props and respect to Barry Marston and Judie King!  Thank you!

I haven’t connected Catherine Lewis to Sally Hayes on paper quite yet, BUT thanks to Barry and Judie I have found confirmation that Catherine Lewis did marry and have children with William Hayes.  She pointed me to Catherine’s father Joshua Lewis’ estate documents filed by Millie Lewis and her second husband James Warr in Northampton County in 1788.  The document says that Catherine Lewis was married to William Hayes but that they had since passed together and that the couple had five children.

Joshua Lewis Estate Records Catherine Lewis Hayes
Catherine Lewis’ father Joshua Lewis’ estate documents filed by Millie Lewis and her second husband James Warr in Northampton County, NC in 1788.  The document says that Catherine Lewis was married to William Hayes but that he had since passed and that the couple had five children. [FamilySearch]
From what I understand, Joshua Lewis died in 1759 in Southampton County, Virginia and that’s where his estate went to probate in 1760.  That makes me wonder if Catherine Lewis and William Hayes died in Southampton County as well.  How did Sally Hayes, if she is the daughter of Catherine Lewis and William Hayes, end up in Greensville County, VA in 1790 to marry Henry Evans?


Tentative mtDNA Connection to Martha Marston and Joshua Lewis of Virginia

*Unconfirmed on paper as of Oct 16, 2017*

Just saying.  We have two perfect mitochondrial DNA matches.  One connected my furthest known maternal line ancestor, Sarah Evans, to her parents Henry Evans and Sarah Hayes by way of her sister Nancy Evans of Northampton County, North Carolina (Nancy married Elijah Gumbs Boon).  I just need to figure out the parents of Sarah Hayes who was likely born in Virginia, particularly her mother.

The second connection is through Mildred “Millie” Lewis b. 1738 d. 1801, wife of Daniel Drewry/Drury, both of Virginia. Her parents were Joshua Lewis and Martha Marston.  Given the DNA evidence, I have a strong hunch these families are connected through the maternal line even though I don’t have quite enough of a paper trail yet to firmly connect them.  I just need to figure out a daughter who could have been the mother of Sarah Hayes.

Children of Joshua Lewis and Martha Marston (from Marston Book/Marston Plantation by Barry Lee Marston):

  • James Lewis, b. 05 Sep 1726; d. 1815
  • Anne Lewis, b. 08 Nov 1727; d. 1727
  • Edmund Lewis, b. 20 Jan 1728/29
  • Joanna Lewis, b. 1730; m. John Vaughn; d. 1797
  • CATHERINE LEWIS, b. 1732; m. WILLIAM HAYES; d. 1789
  • Sarah Lewis, b. 1734
  • Martha Lewis, b. 1736; d. 1788
  • Mildred Lewis, b. 1738; d. 1801 (married Daniel Drewry)

Marston Book

It is important to note Joshua Lewis and Martha Marston’s son James Lewis eventually ends up in Northampton NC with his family (from the Genealogy Web Page for Charles E. Lewis: Descendants of Lewis ap David of Cardiganshire, Wales):

Descendants of Lewis ap David of Cardiganshire, Wales

I would love to know more about Judie King of Texas and her letter #293!

WGT mtDNA Match
Our 2nd mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) match that links our maternal line to Mildred Lewis through her sister Catherine Lewis, and ultimately Martha Marston and her mysterious mother Ann, wife of John Marston.

The Southside Virginian on Internet Archive Volume 3

Volume 3 Number 1

  • Three Wills from “Burned Counties” from Sussex Court Suits
  • Amelia Marriage Fees 1770, 1771
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg
  • Sussex County Powers of Attorney 1802-1823
  • Prince Edward County Will Book 1754-1784
  • Princess Anne Marriages 1737-1744
  • Cumberland County Tithable Lists for 1759
  • Unrecorded Wills of Brunswick County
  • Unrecorded Southampton County Deeds
  • Lunenburg County Insolvent Militia Fines, 1846
  • Some Unrecorded Minister’s Returns from Powhatan, Cumberland, and Chesterfield Counties
  • Warwick and York County Militia Fines

Volume 3 Number 2

  • Dinwiddie County Marriages 1861-1865
  • Sussex County Removals 1825
  • A List of White Souls and Buildings Taken in the County of Greensville, 1785
  • Marriages and Deaths from the Petersburg Intelligencer, 1824-1828
  • Sussex County Tithables List, 1777
  • Bible of John Limbrey Wilkins (1768-1850)
  • Princess Anne Marriages 1717-28
  • Certificates of  Allegiance, Southampton County
  • Halifax Tithables 1771

Volume 3 Number 3

  • Lunenburg County Powers of Attorney, 1815-1819
  • Norfolk County Oaths of Allegiance
  • Henry County Revolutionary War Militia List
  • Removals from Sussex County Insolvent List, 1823
  • Barksdale Family Bible
  • Goode Family Bible
  • Removals from Sussex County Insolvent List, 1822
  • A Moseley-Whitehurst Marriage
  • Unrecorded Wills of Brunswick County
  • Bible Record: Children of Benjamin and Elizabeth (Cary) Watkins
  • Three Buckingham County Wills
  • Pittsylvania County Powers of Attorney, Deed Books 1-11
  • Prince Edward County Will Book 1754-1784
  • Deaths from the Blanford Interment Register

Volume 3 Number 4

  • Orphan’s Records, Dinwiddie County, 1789-1791
  • An Early Brunswick Importation
  • Petitions to Bring Slaves into Virginia
  • Will of Stephen Dewey of Dinwiddie County
  • Powhatan County Tombstone Inscriptions
  • John Murphrey, Revolutionary Soldier of Isle of Wight County
  • Brunswick County Chancery Suit for Dower, 1787
  • Powhatan County Powers of Attorney, 1784-1818
  • Hicks Bible
  • Lunenburg County Militia Fines, 1805 and 1819
  • Hobson vs. Hendricks, 1819
  • Prince Edward Will Book 1754-1784
  • Halifax County Revolutionary War Claims

The Southside Virginian on Internet Archive Volume 2

Volume 2 Number 1

  • Nottoway Indian Census, Southampton County 1808
  • Two Dinwiddie County Wills
  • Amelia County Insolvent Militia Fines
  • Princess Anne County Deed Book No. 5, 1735-1740
  • Certificates of Allegiance
  • Records of a Sussex County Family, 1745-1845
  • Tombstones, “The Oaks”, Brunswick County
  • Chesterfield Tithables, 1756
  • Charlotte County Powers of Attorney, 1797-1830
  • Southampton County Insolvent Lists, 1807
  • Unrecorded Deeds from Isle of Wight County, 1770-1797
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia

Volume 2 Number 2

  • Sussex County Will Book A
  • Prince Edward County Deed Book 8, 1788-1790
  • Certificate of Allegiance, Amelia County
  • Surry County Militia Fines
  • Unrecorded Southampton County Deeds
  • Southampton County Residents from Nansemond County
  • Some Edmunds Heirs
  • Chesterfield Tithables, 1756
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg
  • A Gardner Family of Southampton County
  • The Tobacco Plant

Volume 2 Number 3

  • Losses to the British in Nansemond County, 1782
  • Vick Family Register
  • Some Burned County Wills
  • Cumberland County Tithable Lists for 1759
  • Southampton County Insolvent Lists 1818, 1819
  • Halifax County Powers of Attorney, 1752-1811
  • Family Record of Dr. Henry Lewis of Brunswick County
  • Brunswick County Undecided Chancery Causes
  • Marriages from Amelia County Fee Books
  • Sussex County Will Book A
  • Mecklenburg County Chancery Suits

Volume 2 Number 4

  • Some Robert Chappels of Amelia and Lunenburg Counties
  • Cumberland Tithables, 1759
  • Losses to the British in Nansemond County
  • The Tobacco Plant
  • Some Unrecorded Pittsylvania County Marriage Bonds, 1810
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg
  • Unrecorded Southampton County Deeds
  • Lunenburg County Militia Fines

The Southside Virginian on Internet Archive Volume 1

Volume 1 Number 1

  • Brunswick County Will Book 2
  • Amelia County Tithable List for 1737
  • Urquhart Family Cemetery, Southampton County
  • Account Book of Estates put into the Hands of the Sheriff’s Office, Nansemond County, 1840-1845
  • Registers of Births and Deaths of William Browne and Ann his wife of “Cedar Fields”, Surry County
  • Some Importations from Lunenburg County Order Books
  • Wills from Southampton County Loose Papers
  • Removals from Delinquent Tax Lists
  • Greensville County Powers of Attorney
  • Black Creek Baptist Church, Southampton County, Register of Births

Volume 1 Number 2

  • Halifax County Will Book O
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia
  • Camden Parish, Pittsylvania County, A List of Indentures
  • Lawrence Family of Nansemond County
  • Memorandum of the Age of the Children of Timothy Tharp and Martha his wife
  • Southampton County Marriages
  • The Watkins Family
  • Removals from Insolvent Lists of Amelia County
  • Nottoway County Powers of Attorney
  • Chesterfield County Militia Fines
  • Isle of Wight County Marriages from Land Tax Books, 1821-1829
  • Chesterfield Tithables 1756
  • A Copy from the Register of Benjamin Lewis, Sr.
  • Certificates of Allegiance

Volume 1 Number 3

  • Norfolk County Guardian Bonds, 1751-1761
  • Briery Presbyterian Church Session Book
  • Clack Robinson Family Bible
  • Isle of Wight County Marriages from Land Tax Books, 1821-1829
  • Removals from Amelia County Insolvent Lists, 1750
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia
  • Bible of John Limbrey Wilkins of Brunswick County, Virginia
  • Militia Fines for Henry County for 1821, Recorded 1822
  • Halifax County Will Book O
  • Ages and Birth Dates, Southampton County
  • Meade Family of Amelia County

Volume 1 Number 4

  • Henry County Powers of Attorney, 1806-1823
  • Interments in Blanford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia
  • Brunswick County Militia Fines
  • Removals from Sussex County Militia Fines
  • Norfolk County Guardian Bonds, 1751-1761
  • Powhatan County Insolvents and Removals
  • Buckingham County Probate Records
  • A Williamsburg Will
  • The Rideout Family
  • Princess Anne County Deed Book No. 5, 1735-1740

Evans 1789 Personal Tax List Greensville County Virginia

Tax list from Binns Genealogy (“1790” Census, reconstructed.  Index)

People listed on the 1790 marriage record:

Henry Evans

Evans 1789 Personal A Tax List
Henry Evans on the 1789 tax list in Greensville County, Virginia. I don’t know who either William Evans are just yet. Could be of interest.


John Goodwyn

John Goodwyn 1789 Personal Tax List A
John Goodwyn, the bondsman, on the 1789 tax list in Greensville County, Virginia.
Esau and Armistead Goodwyn 1789 Tax List B
Esau Goodwyn and Armistead Goodwyn, possibly related to the bondsman John Goodwyn. Tax List 1789 Greensville County, Virginia.


J. Parks

J Parks 1789 Personal Tax list A
Could be one of these J Parks that was the witness.


William Andrews

William Andrews 1789 Tax List A
Possibly William Andrews, the Methodist minister in Greensville County, Virginia.