Monday, January 17, 2022

Betsy Nace and Isaac Nofsinger

Members of the Nace family often married members of the Noffsinger—also spelled Nofsinger and Noftsinger—family. For instance, my great-grandfather, John Christian Nace (1828-1928) married Mary Ann Noffsinger (1828-1898), the daughter of Abraham Noffsinger (1797-1887). Abraham Noffsinger was the son of Samuel Noffsinger (1870-1839). Another son of Samuel Noffsinger was Isaac Nofsinger (1799-1880).

Isaac Nofsinger (my 3rd-great-granduncle) married Elizabeth M. "Betsy" Nace (1805-1881), daughter of my 4th great-grandfather, John Christian Nace (1760-1855), and thus my 3rd-great-grandaunt. [Pictures of their gravestones from Findagrave.] 

Isaac and Betsy Nofsinger had the following children: George Lewis (1828-1901); Mary C. (1830-1884); Edwin M. (1833-1906); William James (1834-1895), a private in the Botetourt Light Artillery; Robert Clifton (1837-1906), who served in Botetourt Virginia Light Artillery, Artillery Battalion, Dept. of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee, C.S.A.; Margaret Hester (1839-1936); and John Samuel (1846-1856).
Things did not go well for some of Isaac and Betsy’s children. Their youngest son, John Samuel, died when he was only ten. Two sons went to war, and—while both returned—one suffered the ill effects for decades. Meanwhile, in 1864, General Hunter’s raid burned much of Buchanan, including Mount Joy plantation, where William Nace had been overseer of the iron mill there. (William Nace died the summer before the raid, and his son John Christian Nace settled the estate during late summer of 1863.) I do not know how close the fires came to Isaac and Betsy, but surely they were affected by the number of Union Troops in the area.


Here is the Roanoke Times obituary for Robert Clifton Noftsinger as posted on his Findagrave site:


Mr. R.C. Noftsinger, a well-known citizen of this county, who was living with his son-in-law, Mr. W.R. Styne, near Buchanan, shot himself last Tuesday morning about 6 o'clock, inflicting a wound from the effects of which he died in a few moments.
            He was sixty-nine years of age, and was a Confederate soldier in the War Between the States in 1861-1865.
            While in service, he received a wound that seriously affected his spine from which he never fully recovered. His mind becoming also involved, he was sent to the Western Lunatic Asylum for treatment, where he remained until thought to be sufficiently recovered to allow him to return home. But within six or seven years he had to be sent back, when after being under treatment for awhile he was again released, and has not been at home for seventeen years. Instead of improving he gradually grew worse, until the trouble finally culminated in the act which ended his life.
            The deceased was a son of the late Isaac Noftsinger, and a brother of Mrs. J.W. Morgan of this place; was well known in the county, and universally held in high esteem. No reason can be assigned for the rash act, except that of insanity, and a general giving way of health, from long and constant suffering, in both body and mind.
            His wife had already gone before him, and he leaves behind an only daughter, Mrs. Styne, and a sister, Mrs. Morgan, to mourn his unfortunate death.
            He was buried on Wednesday, the 7th, 8 p.m. at the home cemetery, in the presence of many friends and neighbors. —Roanoke Times November 6, 1906.


While neither Isaac nor Betsy was alive when their son committed suicide, they lived through many months of his confinement in Western Lunatic Asylum. 
They also  lived through decades of another son’s confinement at home. Edwin M. (Eddie/Edward), age 17, was listed on the 1850 Federal Census for Botetourt District 8, as a farmer by occupation and as “ idiotic” by condition. In the 1860 census, he was still in his parents’ home and was listed as idiotic and unable to read. In 1870, he was the only child in the home of his 71- and 65-year old parents, but there was a 48-year-old woman (Nancie Goode) and an 11-year-old in the household. In the 1880 census for Buchanan, 80-year-old Isaac—now a retired farmer— and 75-year-old Elizabeth had three servants—Nancy Good (55), George Russel (20), and Edward Mickey (12). 

Isaac died on July 18, 1880, after the census had been taken. Elizabeth died six months later on January 9, 1881. After his parents’ deaths, Edwin was likely looked after by family.
By the time of the 1900 census, Edwin (age 67) was living with his widowed sister Margaret  “Hester Morgan” (61) in the Fincastle district of Botetourt. Hester’s husband, J. W. Morgan had died in 1899. The census indicated Edwin was disabled and insane. Also in the household were Hester’s daughter Lillie (20), Hester’s daughter Ella S. Hannah (23), Ella’s husband Samuel C. Hannah (30), and a servant George Shanks (35). 
Edwin died on May 10, 1906—six months before his brother’s suicide. He is buried in the Godwin Cemetery in Fincastle, VA, where his sister Margaret Hester Morgan is also buried. Isaac and Betsy are buried in the Nofsinger-Styne-Pico Cemetery near Buchanan where many Naces are also buried.


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

John Christian Nace: Four Children

 While John Christian Nace (1828-1928) had four children, none of his numerous descendants bear the Nace name. 

He and his wife Mary Ann Noffsinger (1828-1880) had only one son, William Robert Nace (1860-1935) whose living children were all female: Mary Lucy (1885-1979), Mattie Blanche (1886-1983), Cora Virginia (1888-1945), Annie Pearl (1890-1911), Ossie Bell (1894-1987), and Zora William (1903-1988). Zora hadn't been born when this 1904 picture was taken.

John named his son William after his own father, William Nace (1797-1863). Possibly William's middle name Robert came from John's brother Robert or John's great uncle, Robert F. Nace (1802-1884). In the 1800s, many first sons were given their paternal grandfather's first name. John Christian Nace himself was named after his own grandfather, John Christian Nace (1760-1855).

His first daughter, Hester Elizabeth (1852-1880), probably got her name from John's mother Hester Fringer Nace (1802-1852), Hester Elizabeth married Samuel Huston Lipes, Jr. (1845-1926). Their children were Burk Stolpher (1872-1944), Ella (1876-?), and Otho Graves (1879-1951). After Hester's death, Samuel married again and had several more children.

John's second daughter was Sallie Ann Nace (1855-1921), who married Charles Judson Booze (1857-1927). Their children were Edgar Preston (1880-1960) who married Alberta Claire Phillips (1885-1980), Sandy Virgil (1887-1962) who married Mary Emma Smiley (1890-1984), unnamed baby (1882-1882), John Anderson (1883-1885), Mary Rossie (1889-1960) who married Robert Lee Jones (1877-1932), Rosa Ella  (1893-1980) who married Marvin Griffin Gross (1894-1970), and Minnie Lee (1896-1989) who married Harry W. West (1895-1963).

John's third daughter was Mary Ann Frances, also known as "Fanny/Fannie" or "Mollie" (1864-1933). She was likely named for John's wife, Mary Ann Noffsinger. She married George William Delong (1866-1944. They had a son, William Delong, but not much info exists for him. Possibly he died young; he is not on the 1900 census.

Mary Ann Frances is the daughter that John lived with after his wife died in 1898. Here is George and Fanny DeLong's house in Lithia: 

Picture taken in mid-1960s

John was listed on the 1900 Buchanan/Botetourt census as father-in-law to head of the household, George DeLong and his wife "Molie F":

Two cousins (probably George's) are also members of the household. Next door is John's son William and his family. On the other side is Lucy Spence, Willliam's mother-in-law. William's house was torn down in the early 1950's, but here is the lot where it once stood. Half of the DeLong house is at left:

Despite years of research, I can find no information about any additional children John C. Nace might have had. Therefore, I was surprised not long ago to see some online sites listing two other sons for him: Charles Allen Nace (born in either 1858 or 1862) and Robert "Bob" Calhoun Nace (born in either 1869 or 1873). At least three family trees on mention one or both in their information about John Christian Nace (but no documentation is provided to prove they are his sons):

If Bob and Charles were indeed John's sons, they'd likely be on the 1870 census for Buchanan/Botetourt census, but they aren't. Only his four proven children are listed:

There is, however, an 8-year-old Charles Nace in a Sizer household though: 

But what about the 1880 for Buchanan/Botetourt census? Are they there? Nope. Only his two younger children, William and Fannie, are listed. Hester and Sallie would have married and and in their own homes, though Hester might have died by this time. [Note that Mary Ann Noffsinger Nace's father, Abraham, lives next door].  

On the 1880 Fincastle/Botetourt census, though, there is a "Mary Nace" listed with her two children, Charles (age19) and Robert (age 9):

Probably someone saw the Fincastle census, thought "Mary Nace" was Mary Ann Noffsinger Nace, and erroneously concluded the two boys must be sons of John Christian Nace. This might have been how the error started popping up in Nace family trees on Ancestry.

The error involving one of these boys has also popped up on FindaGrave. Bob Nace's site ( lists John Christian Nace as his father and Sarah Ann (Sallie), Mary Frances, and William Robert as his siblings. 
UPDATE: As of mid-November 2021, Bob Nace has been removed as John Christian Nace's son on Find-a-Grave. Bob no longer appears on John's children's Find-a-Grave sites as their sibling either.

Because someone linked Bob to John Christian Nace's family, Bob is incorrectly listed as a sibling on each of their sites as well. This grievous error could seriously mess up anyone using the FindaGrave sites for genealogical research:
Pvt. John Christian Nace:
Sarah Ann Nace Booze:
Mary Frances Nace Delong:
William Robert Nace

Although Bob lived longer than John Christian Nace, he is not mentioned in John's obituary:

We can only hope that whoever added these mistakes to online sources will correct them.
NOTE: Another error. As of September 2022, Family Search was listing an additional daughter,  "Clarisa Catherine Nace" (1857/58-1931) but she was the daughter of John A. Nace and Mary E. Craft Nace—not John C and Mary A. (Info from death certificate; Clarisa was born in 1859 and died in 1832.)
Some of my information on the children and grandchildren of John C. Nace comes from a family tree that the late Bill Gross (Zora's son and the last remaining grandchild of William Robert Nace) researched and gave me about 30 years ago.—Becky Mushko


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Matthew Nace: Another Discovery

 I've posted several times about Matthew Harvey Nace, the brother of my great-great grandfather John Christian Nace: "Nace Settlement" when Matthew wasn't around in 1863 to help settle his father's estate, "Matthew Harvey Nace" when I learned about elaborate tomb he'd built for his wife Evaline who died in 1854, "Matthew Nace Mystery, Part I" when I learned he'd absconded with funds from his company and was supposedy sailing to California, and "Matthew Nace Mystery, Part II" when I learned of his further adventures and where he was buried.

Here's a recap: Matthew marries Evaline in Lynchburg, VA, in 1847. They live in Richmond with their three children until Evaline dies following the birth of a daughter in May 1854. Six weeks later the baby dies. Matthew has an elaborate tomb constructed for Evaline in Richmond's Hollywood Cemetery. Matthew's mother, Hester Fringer Nace, dies in the summer of 1854. Matthew and his children are living in New York by 1855 and Matthew is apparently involved in several businesses, including Nace & Coe. But in 1856, Matthew has robbed the company, swindled others, and absconded. His former partner, Israel Coe, places notices in several newspapers. Here's one:

In April 1856, Matthew writes Coe a letter saying he is sailing to California and sending his children to his father (William Nace in Buchanan, Virginia). However, Matthew doesn't sail and doesn't leave his children with his father. Instead, he marries Ella B. Christian, his late wife's sister, on July 7, 1856, in Vigo, Indiana. By 1857, they are living in Missouri where Matthew is apparently scamming several people.  

The Randolph Citizen, 27 May 1859, page 2

I couldn't find the article in the Fulton Telegraph, so I do not know what his "rascalities" include. But it is likely that he has committed many illegal acts, and thus he leaves the area before he is arrested. No doubt he stops by Lecompton, Kansas, where he leaves his children with relatives. His son William M. appears on the 1860 Kansas census as a member of his uncle William's household. One of the girls ends up with her grandmother.

By the 1860s, Matthew (now James Neyce) and Ella are in Oregon, where they have a daughter Berta Lee (born 1867) and a son James McDowell (born and died in 1868). Apparently they were in Oregon from 1860 to 1868. Then they moved again. See "Matthew Nace Mystery, Part I" and "Matthew Nace Mystery, Part II" for further details of his adventures.

Eventually, Matthew/James does make it to California, where he lives for several years before he is again involved in rascalities and spends some time in Folson Prison. His prison description matches his description in the above newspaper article—right down to the damaged left eye.

Matthew Harvey Nace—"the Expert Scoundrel"—is, no doubt, the black sheep of the Nace family.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A Nace Family Recipe: Light Bread

 This post originally appeared on my "Peevish Pen" blog back in June of 2007 as "Another Family Recipe: Light Bread." Since it's a recipe my grandmother probably got from her grandmother, it's worth posting here:

Grandma's Light Bread

One of the delights of my childhood was going to Grandma’s house on Sunday and smelling her light bread baking. Eating it hot from the oven was even more delightful. She had both a wood stove and a gas stove in her kitchen. She used the wood stove for baking the bread and for most of her cooking. I rarely saw her use the gas stove.

Mattie Blanche Nace Ruble—who lived to be nearly 97—grew up in Lithia, Virginia, but moved to Roanoke when she married a railroad man. Here is a picture of her as a young mother with her three children (Lawrence, the oldest; Raymond, the baby; and Alene, my mother).

Grandma probably got the recipe from her mother, Sulmena Frances Spence Nace, pictured here with her husband, William Robert Nace.

Grandma Ruble’s Light Bread

1 cake or package of yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon shortening (She used lard but Crisco works)
6 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 pint lukewarm water

Dissolve 1 cake yeast and 1 Tbs. sugar in one pint lukewarm water. Add 1 Tbs. shortening (Crisco) and 3 cups plain flour. Beat until smooth. Then add 1 tsp. salt and 3 more cups of flour—or enough to make a dough that is easily handled.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic–about 10 minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, cover, and set in a moderately warm place, free from drafts, until light (about 50 minutes).

Punch down dough and form into rolls. Place rolls in greased bread pans, cover, and let rise one hour. Bake 30 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven. [Note: I added the time and temperature that worked for me.]
I liked the rolls from the corner of the pan—crust on two sides so it held up well for buttering.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Uncle T.O. Mystery

Some of my Nace family has been making the news lately, at least in the "What's on Your Mind" column by Ray Cox that appears in every Monday's Roanoke Times

Because one of Cox's April columns, "WOYM: More Nace memories surface, from attempts to revive manganese mining to snakes not alive" referenced a "Tazewell Orren Hunt," I thought Tazewell might be connected to my great-aunt Cora Nace's husband, Thomas Orren Hunt. (I'd blogged about Cora and her husband in this December 10 post: "Cora Virginia Nace Hunt") Orren is not a common name.

I did some research and could find nothing about a "Tazewell Orren Hunt." I concluded that "Tazewell" had to have been "Thomas." I emailed Ray Co about what I'd learned. As a good reporter would do, Cox did some more researching himself. Hence the story in the July 27 newspaper: "WOYM: Family historians help piece together the backstory on 'Uncle T.O.' of Botetourt."

Mystery solved.

Because some readers of this blog are interested in Botetourt County hisotry, here are the URLs to related "WOYM" stories about the town of Nace and about Uncle T.O. in order they appeared in the Roanoke Times: 

**April 5 "WOYM: Botetourt County's Nace had ties to region's iron mining history"

**April 19, 2020: "WOYM: More Nace memories surface, from attempts to revive manganese mining to snakes not alive"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Smith Connection

What does this sign have to do with my Nace heritage?

While I’m a Smith through my paternal line, I’m also a Smith through my maternal Nace line via my great-grandmother’s Spence line.

My Nace line, through Frances Spence Nace, goes back to Goffs to Harrisons to Battailes to a Smith line in colonial Virginia. John Battaile (my 8thgreat-grandfather who settled before 1690 in VA and who served in the House of Burgesses in 1696) was married to Elizabeth Smith, daughter of Major Lawrence Smith who “surveyed and helped lay out the Town of Yorktown.” Here’s the line and how it connects to the Naces (some of the dates might be off by a few years because some sources list slightly different dates; ditto for a few of the spellings of names):

Thomas Smith (1565-):Alice Judd (1565-1615)
Christopher Smith (1592-1638): Elizabeth Townley Halstead (1598-1679)
Major Lawrence Smith(1629-1700): Mary Debnam (1633-1728)
Elizabeth Smith(1668-1708): Captain John Bataille (1658-1708)
Elizabeth Battaile (1695-1770): Andrew Harrison Jr. (abt. 1687-13 July 1753)
Battaile Harrison (1712/ 1720-16 Nov 1776): Frances White (1725- April 7, 1789)
John Harrison (1747-1795): Sally Ellis
Battaile Harrison (1771-): Frances Tinsley
Mary (Polly) Harrison (1794-18??): Archibald Goff (1780-1850)
Andrew Frederick SpenceMary Lucy Goff (1830-1900)
Sulmana Frances Spence: William Robert Nace

The following info is condensed from various internet sources:

Major Lawrence Smith was born 29 March 1629 (or possibly later), in Lancashire, England, and died after 8 August 1700 in Gloucester County, Virginia. He was an engineer and a surveyor and was a prominent citizen in colonial Virginia. He came to Virginia in the mid-1600's, possibly imported from England to Virginia by his uncle, Augustine Warner, in the year 1652. (Warner was the great-great grandfather of George Washington.) While no pictures exist of Smith, this is a portrait of  Augustine Warner:

Smith patented Severn Hall in Gloucester County in 1662, where he lived and died.  

However, he also had connections to Yorktown. He acquired Temple Farm in Yorktown in 1686. (This farm was the site of Cornwallis’s surrender in 1781.) He surveyed land for the British Crown in both Gloucester and York Counties. In 1691, he received fifty acres of land as payment for surveying and laying out the town of Yorktown. He also received considerable other land for importing people from England to Virginia.

Like several of my colonial ancestors, he was involved in Bacon’s Rebellion. “In 1676, he commanded 111 men out of Gloucester County at a fort near the falls of the Rappahannock River, and the same year he led the trained bands of Gloucester against the rebels under Bacon.” Thus, he was fighting against some of my other ancestors who sided with Nathaniel Bacon.

Page 43 of Families of Virginia shows the connection between Lawrence Smith and John Battaile:

His children with Mary Debnam (name is sometimes different) are Mary (1652), John (abt. 1653), Capt. Charles (1655), Elizabeth (abt. 1665)—my 8th great-grandmother who married John Battaile, Col. Lawrence, Maj. Augustine (1666), Sarah (abt. 1661), and Capt. William (1687). These dates vary slightly in different sources.

In 1699, he was recommended for a King's Councilor post, but did not live long enough to be seated.  (His son John was then given the post.)

The Internet provides plenty of information about Major Lawrence Smith


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Matthew Nace Mystery Part II

continuation of Matthew Nace Mystery Part I

After a decade or so of living in Oregon, Matthew Harvey Nace—albeit under his assumed name, James H. Neyce—finally made it to California.

James H. Neyce doesn’t appear in an 1870 census, but he was clearly in California by then. James H. Neyce, a watchmaker, appears in the October 1868 voter registration for Salinas, California. 

James Hempstead Neyce, a watchmaker who was born in Virginia, appears again in the 1871 voter registration for Lakeport, California.

By 1880, he seems to have aged about four years. Page 41 of the 1880 California-Sonoma-Santa Rosa Census, shows 60-year-old James H. Neyes was a “searcher of records” and lived on Cherry Street in Sonoma. The census information indicates both his parents were from Virginia, as was he and his wife Ella B. (age 38—now her husband is over 20 years older than she!). James and Ella now have two daughters—13-year-old Berta Lee (born in Oregon) and 8-year-old May (born in California). Source: Year: 1880;Census Place: Santa Rosa, Sonoma, California;Roll: 84;Page: 110C;Enumeration District: 124

Years later, Mae Ida Neyce’s social security info gives her parents’ names (her mother is Ella B. Christian), birthdate, and birthplace:
In 1882, part of his job as "searcher of records" must have involved researching patents. Here is a patent application that he witnessed:
The 1890 census is unavailable, but James appears to be living alone in the 1900 census. Ella B. must have died and his daughters—now grown—must have left home.

Perhaps it’s best that his family was gone before they were disgraced by James being imprisoned for embezzlement in January 1901 and serving two years in Folson Prison. Title/Description:Identification Cards, (Folsom) 24801-25277 and (San Quentin), 4499-14744 p. 1343-44

Why he was imprisoned is a mystery. Did Matthew Nace’s past finally catch up with him, or did he commit a new crime in California? I couldn’t find any trial records (yet), only that he served nearly two years. His former business partner Israel Coe, who was 60 years old in the 1855 New York census and who took out newspaper ads in 1856 in an attempt to apprehend Matthew H. Nace, would be long dead. Did James H. Neyce’s job as a “searcher of records” provide a temptation to embezzle? 

Despite his imprisonment, he didn’t lose his voting rights. The 1894 Sonoma voter list provided a description of 76-year-old (note age change from prison record—he should be 74, not 76 here) James Hemstead Neycefrom Virginia. He was 5 ft. 8 tall, had a light complexion and blue eyes, gray hair, and was blind in his left eye. (The Nace family in Botetourt County, Virginia, had blue eyes. Matthew’s younger brother John Christian Nace had blue eyes and a light complexion.) James is still listed as a searcher of records and lives in Santa Rosa no. 6 precinct.

But he only lived six years longer. James Hempstead Neyce, whose birthdate is “unknown,” died on March 10, 1910, and was buried in the old county cemetery in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California. 

The plaque on the rock near the path reads: 

Unlike his first wife Evaline, whose grave in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery was graced by the lavish monument he had erected to her memory, James/Matthew was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

Note: Much of the above is speculation based on evidence I discovered at various sites on the Internet, but what I have deduced about Matthew Harvey Nace is certainly plausible. (His marriage record to Ella B. Christian and their daughter May Ida Neyce’s social security record provided the most helpful hints.) We’ll probably never know the full story of his life and exploits, but some public records have given us at least a glimpse of part of it. Pictures of the cemetery are from