My Search for the Parentage of William R. Womack

by Mary W. Glenn, updated October 27th, 1998

[Editor's note: This is the first WGN feature article, hopefully of a series, discussing the specifics of one of our member's Womack research. It covers the research, the findings, the questions, and the brick wall. It allows one to elaborate in more detail than is possible in email or the message page. Hopefully, someone out there will have some information or idea that will help Mary with her research. If you are that someone, please contact her directly and let her know. If you would be interested in sharing your family research and experiences, please contact me at]

In the beginning I was searching for the Bess family in Ste. Genevieve County, MO where my second great grandfather, William Frederick Bess was born ca 1852. I went to the 1860 Ste. Genevieve County MO census. I located him with two siblings and his mother, Martha M. Bess. Also, living in the household was John Womack age 24. There was no father listed and I assumed he had died. I checked the 1860 Mortality Census and there I found Frederick Bess had died April 1860. Since there was a Womack living in the household, I thought it was a good chance that Martha's maiden name was Womack. I then checked the 1850 Ste. Genevieve County MO census. In the household of William R. Womack with wife Hannah, there was John Womack age 14. There was no Martha M. listed, but I felt she was of an age to be already married. Unfortunately, a check of marriage records for Ste. Genevieve County, Stoddard County, Perry County, and Madison County did not reveal any marriage for Martha M. Womack or for a Frederick Bess to a Martha. To date, I still have not been able to locate a marriage record, but this is not so unusual in this time period. It has been my contention that they were probably married by a Justice of the Peace and the record was never turned in at the county level.

As with all of us, life intervenes and my research was put on hold. In 1997, my son convinced me to try out the computer and the internet. As a result, I made contact with "cousins" working on the same family names. I was sent some background information that bore out my thinking that Martha was the daughter of William R. Womack. Thus began my search to try and find out all I could about the Womack family.

This summer I was justified in my thinking that Martha M. was the daughter of William R. when I discovered a "cousin" in Farmington who had a Womack Bible. Upon my request for a copy of the family pages, it was discovered that indeed this was William R.'s Bible and Martha Magalena with birth date was listed as a daughter. The Bible was dated 1827 and his oldest child was born in 1828 and Martha was born in 1830.

I was put in contact with Ray Bryan Womack and I provided him with my information and in turn he sent me a disk of information on the Womack Family. Included in that information was the fact that William R. and a brother Levi were listed in the family of William and Rebecca Parker Womack. Several reasons made me think that he had been placed in the wrong family. For one thing, William R. had been born 1807 NC; had a son in TN in 1828 and Martha M. in AL in 1830. William and Rebecca had taken their family to IL before 1820. It appeared that William R had not been in IL. This family may very well have a William and a Levi, but the time frame I was given and the facts as I know them doesn't fit for my line. I was then given copies of the Womack Newsletters. I read through them avidly hoping beyond hope that I would locate the information that I was looking for in them. One other fact that I had discovered in MO was that William R. had married Lucy Womack in 1854. Joyce Martin, who lives in Farmington and is descended from the youngest son of William R, Robert Benton Womack, had always been told that cousin had married cousin. In reading the Newsletters, I found a lot of information on William and Lucinda (Womack) Womack. I had already been sent the probate on William (Buck) Womack who listed Lucy as an heir and daughter. Buck and his wife, Sarah McBee, were mentioned as being a son of William and Lucinda. In making contact with other Womack researchers via the internet and the WGN site, I was able to see that William R and his family and Buck and his family followed the same naming patterns for their children and the same migration routes.

All of this led me back to MO and a search of deed and probate records. There I discovered that William R. served as Administrator for the estate of Levi B. Womack. I had been told by another cousin who descends from William R.'s oldest son, Francis Marion, that she had been told by some older members of the family some twenty years ago that during the Civil War, Francis Marion had been at the Battle of Lookout Mountain with his brother, Robert, who was killed and he brought back his affects in 1864. I knew that his brother, Robert, had not been born until 1857 and it was impossible for him to have been in the War. I left that piece of information on hold. I had also been told that Francis Marion's Mother was a woman named Jane Scott and that she had refused to move with William R. and he took his son and married again in TN and had more family. I have not been able to find any way to prove this assertion. But back to the probate, William R. states firmly in his papers that Levi B. was his brother, and he was his only heir for the property that was left as far as he knew. He stated at one time there had been a daughter, but did not know where she was and assumed she was deceased. He gave a death date for Levi B as May 1864. I then turned to Military records. I first checked with the MO Archives where they sent me one sheet that said Levi B. Womack was 26 years old; in the 6th MO Infantry Regiment and at been killed at Resaca, GA May 1864. I went searching the Civil War books that I have and ask on the internet for information on the 6th Regiment. I discovered all of the battles that they had taken part and when. I then sent for the records from the National Archives. When I received that package, I discovered that the age given by MO had been correct, which I had questioned in my mind, since that made 28 years difference between William R and Levi B. I also discovered that Levi B had been mustered out in Jan 1864 while in AL and had elected to reenlist. His reenlistment papers gave his age, where born, and description. I had heretofore searched the 1840 AL census records for William R. I had found a William Womac with the right number and ages of children for William R. I went back to look in the 1850 AL census to check for Levi B again and again was not able to locate him with a father old enough to be the father of William R. also. Although Levi B. bought land in MO before he enlisted at Pilot Knob with several other Womack's, I cannot find him on a census record for MO either. I then checked the Roll of Honor book and discovered that Levi B. was buried in the Chattanooga National Cemetery. He had been buried at Resaca, GA and reinterred in the TN cemetery when it was opened. This bore out the story that had been handed down in the family. Only the relationship and the name had been wrong. The battle of Resaca, GA took place about six months after the Battle of Lookout Mountain. I had also discovered that Wm. R. had been granted a Military Land Warrant in 1852 in MO. I could not figure out what War he could have been in if his age was correct as he was either not old enough or too old for the ones that we usually hear about. I then discovered a deed in 1879 where he had filed a patent and the land was granted for his having been a Private in Capt. Rozel's Company of AL Volunteers in the Florida War. He enlisted in Bellefonte, AL and was mustered out three months later at Fort Mitchell, AL. This was a war with the Seminole Indians and the dates of the First and Second Florida War were 1832-1844.

I have placed several messages on the WGN site and have swapped e-mails with several Womack researchers, but there has not been anyone who has been able to place William R. and Levi B. in a family that fits into the correct time frame. William R. was born in 1807 NC and Levi B. was born 1835 AL. I know that part of the problem is that there are so many William's and Levi's in all of the Womack families, that not all of the children of all of the different lines can be placed. Of course, the ideal situation would be someone out there that has a Bible with both of these men listed with at least approximate dates that match.

I have been able to locate most of the names, marriages and grandchildren of all of William R.'s children. They are:

1st wife - UNKNOWN
Francis Marion (son) 1828 TN-1899 MO

2nd wife - Hannah UNKNOWN

Martha Magalena 1830 AL-1904 MO
Sarah Elizabeth 1832 AL- 1877 MO
Margaret Lehene 1834 AL
John William 1836 AL-1877 MO
Benjamin Bradford 1839 AL-1891 MO
Mary Catherine 1842 AL-1928 MO
Nancy Adeline 1842 AL-1877 MO
Josiah C. 1845 MO1880's MO
Joel Thomas 1847 MO
Levi Preston 1848 MO-1884 MO
Mayetta Jane 1852 MO-1933 MO

3rd wife - Lucy Womack: Melvina M. 1855 MO-1860 MO

Robert Benton 1857 MO-1920 MO
Charles C.R. died 1860 MO
Andrew J. 1861 MO

William R. and the majority of his children are buried in the Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Avon, Ste. Genevieve County, MO on the land that he and Lucy gave as a graveyard in 1872.

From the Newsletters, I have found that William and Lucinda Womack had a large family of children. Among their names are many of the names of William R.'s children. The oldest son of that family was named Josiah who is stated to have had a large family, but none of the children's names are given. The second son was named Thomas and supposedly had two children, but again no names are given. The others seem to be pretty well covered and although many of them went to AL, none have a Wm. R. or Levi B. listed together. These are all brothers of Buck who also went to AL and then to MO a couple of years after Wm. R. Because I have located descendants of Buck in MO and also have a copy of his probate, I know all of his children's names and they correspond closely to those of Wm. R. For these reasons, I feel somehow that William R is closely related to this particular branch of Womack's other than just through his having become Buck's son-in-law when he married Lucy Womack. It is not unusual in any of these families to find their name spelled in various ways and for this reason it makes searching the records even more difficult.

I hope that after you finish reading this long research paper that someone will be able to help resolve the problem of William R. and Levi B.'s parentage. Please contact me if you have any information or ideas.

Mary W. Glenn
Texas City, Texas

Copyright © 1998 Mary W. Glenn. This document may be duplicated or printed for use in personal research as long as this copyright notice is included. It may not be reproduced in any other media form and/or for commercial use without the express written consent of the author. All rights reserved.
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