Genealogy Mystery – Richard Wade Skaggs

One of my occasional hobbies is genealogy. I think of it as a very personal way to learn history and I’ve always been interested in history. I’ve been able to trace most of the branches of my family back pretty far and the Internet in most cases has made this far, far easier than it used to be. However, one of my most direct lines ends in a mystery with a man who was born in ~1824. His name was Richard Wade Skaggs. If you have any documentation on who this person’s parents really were, I would greatly appreciate it.

Here is the information I have on Richard Wade Skaggs, some of this came from a post I made on Ancestry a few years back:

His death certificate lists his mother as Nannie Skaggs (supposedly maiden name according to the form) and his father as “Unknown”. Based on this I would guess that he was most likely born out of wedlock and that he took his mother’s last name. However, there could be some other explanation like perhaps the person (probably son) who provided the information didn’t know her maiden name…

Some other relevant facts about Richard Wade Skaggs:

According to an indenture made October 4th, 1841, Richard Wade Skaggs turned 14 in March 1841 (birth year would be 1827). His age was probably fudged for this to make him older.

In the 1850 Census of Green County, Kentucky, Richard Wade Skaggs is listed as a laborer living with Stephen and Sarah Skaggs. He is listed as being 21 years old and born in Louisiana (birth year would be ~1829). Stephen and Sarah are about 10 years older so they couldn’t be his parents though I would have to assume that they are related somehow, probably through his mother.

In the 1860 Census of Taylor County, Kentucky, Richard Wade Skaggs is listed as being 27 years old and born in Kentucky. (birth year would be ~1833)

In the 1870 Census of Taylor County, Kentucky, Richard Wade Skaggs is listed as being 44 years old and born in Louisiana. (birth year would be ~1826)

In the 1880 Census of Larue County, Kentucky, Richard Wade Skaggs is listed as being 52 years old and born in Kentucky. (birth year would be ~1828)

In the 1900 Census of Larue County, Kentucky, Richard Wade Skaggs is listed as being 74 years old and born in Kentucky. (birth year would be ~1826)

In the 1910 Census of Buffalo, Larue County, Kentucky he is listed as being 84 years old and born in Louisiana. (birth year would be ~1826)

The death certificate of Richard Wade Skaggs lists his birth date as March 15, 1825 and his tombstone says March 15, 1824. His mother is listed as “Nannie Skaggs” and his father is listed as “Not Known”. His birth place, and the birth place of both parents is listed as “Kentucky”. The informant on the death certificate is James Skaggs (he had a son named James so that’s probably him).

It seems to me that “Nannie” is probably a nickname or short for something like Nancy but I’m just speculating. Richard’s birthdate is uncertain but it seems likely to have been March 15th 1824 or 1825.

Interestingly, there was a Richard Wade married to a Mary Skaggs mentioned in a lawsuit with a bunch of other Skaggs relatives (presumably). So speculating that these may have been Richard Wade Skaggs parents I tried to do some research on them. But this means his parents were married so why would he have taken his mother’s last name? Divorce before birth? Below is what I found on them. If you have more info on these individuals that prove (or disprove) that these were the parents of Richard Wade Skaggs, I’d love to hear about it.

Relevant facts about Richard Wade and Mary Skaggs:

A Richard Wade married to a Mary Skaggs was mentioned in a lawsuit in 1836 as follows:

Green co., Ky., Order Books: Sept. 2, l836, John Skaggs vs. Jeremiah Skaggs. This day came the complainants by his counsel and filed his bill herein and on his motion and its appearing to the satisfaction of the courts that Jeremaih Skaggs, Richard Wade & Mary his wife formerly Skaggs, Wm. Graham and Sally his wife formerly Skaggs, Stephen Skaggs, James Skaggs, Nancy Skaggs, Elizabeth Skaggs, Jeremiah Skaggs, James Skaggs, John Pearce & Letta his wife, Henry Skaggs, James Skaggs, John Patterson and Jane his wife, John Jackson and Elizabeth his wife are not inhabitants of this Commonwealth. It is therefore ordered by the court that unless the sd. non resident defendants to appear here on or before the lst day of Dec. term next and file their answer to the complainants bill that said bill will be taken against them as confessed and the prayer thereof decreed accordingly.

Then John also sues William Skaggs & the same people are listed.

A Richard Wade and Mary Ann Skaggs are found in Louisiana as early as 1812. I’m just speculating at this point that these may be the same individuals mentioned above but it is compelling that they were in Louisiana and Richard Wade Skaggs had his birth place sometimes listed as Louisiana:

Maritime Commerce and the Founding of Wadesboro, Tangipahoa Parish, & St. Helena Parish, Louisiana

Maritime Commerce and the Founding of Wadesboro

Special to The Times
(Part Two In A Series)

On the Ponchatoula River early settler Richard Wade had established a location sometimes called Ponchatoula Landing, but usually referred to as Wade’s Landing. Richard Wade and his wife Mary Ann Skaggs (Scuggs, Skeggs) settled in St. Helena Parish by 1812, owning land on the Natalbany River, By 1819, Richard had established his landing on the Ponchatoula River. Wade was a cotton planter and also engaged in commerce at his landing. He was listed as owning 960 acres of land on tax lists in both 1824 and 1826 on the Ponchatoula River in what was then St. Helena Parish. He was also taxed as the owner of a tavern in 1826. In later years he was to lay out a town at his landing and begin the settlement of Wadesborough.

A Richard Wade is listed in the 1820 Census of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana

Richard Wade married Mary Ann Robson on March 13, 1829 in St. Helena parish, Louisiana (not sure what happened to Mary Ann Skaggs – did he really marry two different people named Mary Ann? Were these two different Richard Wades that both happened to marry someone named Marry Ann in the same parish?).

Richard Wade sold land to a Mary Ann Robertson/Robinson on November 13, 1829 (is this person related to the Mary Ann Robson he married and how? These are probably just spelling variations because of transcription errors or other reasons… Is he selling land to his wife? Maybe her mother had the same name? What’s with all the Mary Ann variations?):

Deeds: Richard Wade to Mary Ann Robinson, St. Helena Parish, LA

State of Louisiana
Parish of St. Helena

Richard Wade to Mary Ann Robinson
13 November 1829

Know all men by these presents that I, Richard Wade of the parish of St. Helena and State of Louisiana, have this day for and in consideration of the sum of fifteen hundred dollars, cash to me in hand paid before the signing of the presents by Mary Ann Robertson of the said parish and State, grant, bargain, sold transferred, and conveyed and by these presents do grant, bargain, sell, transfer and convey unto the said Mary Ann Robinson one half of a section of Land containing three hundred and twenty acres situate lying and being on the Ponchatola [sic] River on the east side of, Known by the name of Wades landing place, bounded on the north by Absolom Traylors land, on the east by lands of Jon Cone?, and on all other sides by vacant Lands. To have and to hold the afore said described premises unto the said Mary Ann Robinson, her heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, and the said Richard Wade for himself, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns unto the said Mary Ann Robertson, her heirs, and assigns shall and will warrant and forever defend the aforesaid described premises, hereby warranting and defending the aforesaid land from the claim or claims of all and every person or persons whomsoever.

Done and passed before me Burlin Childress, parish Judge and ex officio notary public in and for said parish, on this Thirteenth day of November in the Year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty nine in presence of Samuel Rankins, and Edward Gorman, witnesses who signed with me, the said Judge and notary.

R. Wade

Edward Gorman
Samuel Rankin

Burlin Childress, P. J. ex N. OP.

Source: Conveyance Records – St. Helena Parish, Louisiana (FHL Film 0355804-pg.

A Richard Waid is listed in the 1830 Census of St. Helena Parish, Louisiana.

Any help in solving the mystery of where these people came from would be greatly appreciated. I doubt this information can be found online (currently) because I’ve been looking for 20 years. However, if you happen to live in any of the places where Richard Wade Skaggs might have been born (Kentucky or Louisiana most likely) and happen to do genealogy research anyway, then keep your eyes out for Richard…and remember, I’m just speculating that the Richard Wade and Mary Ann Skaggs I mention above MIGHT be Richard Wade Skaggs parents and I can’t even be sure that the ones mentioned in the lawsuit in Kentucky are the same as the ones that were in Louisiana earlier. That’s all speculation on my part…

For some more information on Richard Wade Skaggs, see which includes most of the info I have on him.



3 Responses to Genealogy Mystery – Richard Wade Skaggs

  1. (comment from firstamendment via original post

    For anyone willing to research more here are some possible things to follow. Please note that narratives you find on ancestry, findagrave, wikitree, etc, can be false, or can mix two difference people (which is really easy to do in genealogy). I am about to go outside and till.

    here is a [photochopped] clip from the 1840 census, which lists a richard skaggs (and others) as head of house in green county. It’s not of much use except to try to find the existence of otherwise undocumented children.

    From find a grave there is a second entry for a Richard wade skaggs born 1824, and died in 1913. You have the one from otter creek baptist cemetery. Another exists at a pleasant grove cemetary. I am not sure if they are the same thing or not, or if it is listed in error.

    From find a grave there are other skaggs in taylor county, one of which was reportedly born in green county.

    One of them is Solomon Skaggs whose wife was patty. Solomon’s father was a william skaggs. But there is no son mentioned as richard on this narrative. It does mention a johnathon skaggs as solomon’s brother.

    some more searching also suggest solomon had david (about age 60 at richard’s birth) and stephen (about age 40 at richard’s birth; kids seemed named after his father henry, possibly king william and mary, and various biblical names) as siblings

    John died at the age on 19 in about 1779. according to the narritive he had [other] half brothers of (James Thomas Skaggs, III; William “Squire” Skaggs; Henry Skaggs; Jerimiah Skaggs; Rachel Etherton; Fredrick SKAGGS; Joseph SKAGGS; Daniel SKAGGS; Abraham Moredock SKAGGS; and Loveless Skaggs)

    There is a Richard skaggs born 1801, but his son richard according to the narrative was born in 1843.
    He had a son names elias in 1826, who had a son in about 1849. Elias died in jail (suicide) on the charge of murder according to the narrative.
    his other son henry was born in 1821
    william was born in 1831
    jeremiah 1835. There is evidence of other skagg cemetaries
    jackson 1839 (died in civil war)
    richard 1843
    green 1848

    What could be a [g?] grandfather william skaggs, is here. There is reportedly a skaggs cemetary

    and here are the people laid to rest in the skaggs cemetary (not to be confused with the henry skaggs cemetary):

    This gives us two more potentials of Thomas and his son Elijah. Thomas skag’s narrative includes a wife named nancy, but the narrative doesn’t list a son named richard. but is worth investigating.

    The richard skagg mentioned in moses will could have been born in about 1700 according to this narrative. Another page puts it at 1744. This richard reportedly had 3 sons: MA shack, Shadrach, and Abednego. Ma shack was killed by indians in 1795. There still could be more children, a biblical trio is easier to remember and others can easily be forgotten.

    additionally, likely from from virginia, there is a richard skaggs in the revolutionary war pay rolls in what appears to be captain long’s company.

    there are other skaggs in the area. A james Skagg and his son Ewing

    A james skaggs

    There are other early skahhs in ky, not sure how close they are to green and tayloy county. Some could be related to some of the people named above or duplicates: (young daughter of a james)

    I am sure there are many more results on family search.
    anyways have fun googling old newspapers, books, and histories; searching any online church logs, and familysearch.

    There also appears to be an alternate spelling to skaggs and skeggs of skuggs. You may want to contact the newspaper to review their sources.

    There is hardly a skaggs in the family search database for the Louisiana area. But most of the earliest skuggs (in the usa) I am able to find is in Kentucky. link

    The 1830 census lists Richard Wade as a widow with 5 kids including one boy under 5, but there is a elderly woman living there.
    In 1840 in nearby livingston, he against appears in the census with a son between the age of 10-15.

    In 1837, he very much is still alive having sworn an affidavit in the case of Mr. Lane.


    It also looks like he was involved in other litigation in 1837 Richard Wade vs. Benjamin Rheams; 3 documents; 1839-1840

    in the 1850 census he is listed as a rick wade, and mary ann Wade (born 1797) is still with him.

    Supposing their kid is richard wade skagg. I am curious as to why his middle name was wade, and why the 1830 census reads widow. It is possible that he was named after Richard, but it wasn’t his kid, or Maybe Richard and Mary had an affair or other relation outside of marraige. Maybe, If for example the mother was white, but the child was black, he (at least in some states) would be a freeman. Maybe that had something to do with him moving to Kentucky. As to the sale of land to Mary Ann Robinson, it is possible that he did end up marry her later. Usually there is no need to sell property between spouses back then since it belonged to the marital estate. In 1830 they still may not have been married, since the census still reads widow. It is possible that robinson/robertson is her previous married name and Skagg is her maiden name. I am not sure how factual this link is, but in 1806 it reports a marriage between a Mary Skaggs (who would be 19 if it is this Mary we are talking about) and a Frances Robertson. . Another thing I notice is that in 1819 she takes ownership of land, which is unusual for women to do at this time which suggests she’s been widowed for some time by the 1830 census.

    To prove or disprove your theory that it is a combination of the two, I suppose it is a matter of identifying who that one son born 1825-1830 really was. I’m not having any luck trying to find wades in that area with a mother named mary ann, or mary or a father named rick, or richard. I too am at a dead end with the wade route.

    1797 is still pretty early for the Skaggs immigration to Kentucky. To identify her will likely reveal her relation to stephen who also served in the military ( But i’ll let someone else do that.

    Good luck in your quest, and good luck to others

    • Yeah, I’ve been driving myself crazy looking at all this stuff on and off again for 20 years or so. My speculation about Richard Wade being the father really comes down to the assumption that Richard Wade Skaggs was born out of wedlock. That’s because the mother’s Maiden name is listed as Skaggs on the death certificate. But that could be for other reasons like the son of Richard Wade Skaggs who provided the information just didn’t know his grandmother’s maiden name. I mean Nannie doesn’t seem like a proper given name either but possibly just what he called her.

      Anyway, the Richard Wade theory was just another direction to go look because I’ve already looked in all the others I can think of but as you noticed, there’s not much to go on there either. The Mary Skaggs/Robertson thing is confusing but what you say makes sense. If she was previously married then you might see the maiden name listed sometimes and her married name listed others depending on timing and what the document is. Maybe Richard Wade Skaggs was really born Richard Wade (Jr.) and took his mother’s maiden name as his last name for some reason at a later date though I don’t know why that would be.

      I think the best clue I have is the fact that he lived with Sarah and Stephen Skaggs. I figure he has to be related to them somehow to have lived with them and have the same last name. Of course not knowing for sure if it was through his mother or father makes it a guessing game without a little more info. There has to be something out there somewhere. I suppose I’ll try to do a little more exploration into the life of Mary Skaggs->Mary Robertson->Mary Wade? and her family to see what I find…

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