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Susan, Andrew I., or Nancy Bray information

Replies: 4

Cordelia Begley Bray

Posted: 31 Dec 2013 10:05AM GMT
Classification: Query
I'm not convinced that George R. Begley is the father of Cordelia Begley Bray. George enlisted in the Union's 1st Regiment, E Company of the Tennessee Cavalry on April 15th, 1962, and mustered out 3 years later on April 15th, 1865. While he did spend most of those three years fighting with Confederate forces in Tennessee, the skirmishes and campaigns took him no where near Hancock or Hawkins counties between December 1862 and September 1863.


Cordelia Begley Bray was born September 15, 1863, and, assuming the pregnancy was 9 months in duration, conception was most likely sometime in late December 1862 or early January 1863. Unless George came home for Christmas or came home to recover from wounds, there isn't a strong likelihood that he fathered this child.

George did have three brothers, all older than he and more the age of Susan Anderson Bray, Cordelia's mother. They were Henry, Christian, and Pleasant. None of them appears to have served in the Civil War and would have been in Hancock county when Cordelia was conceived. As no birth certificates were required in Tennessee until 1908, it is not known if "Begley" was her actual middle name or used as a reference as to whom her father was, but just the name Begley does not really point the finger at George Begley.

Gossip had it that Susan's daughter from after the divorce from Andrew Jackson Bray, Sarah, might also have been fathered by George Begley in 1878. If Henry, Christian, or Pleasant Begley were truly Cordelia's biological father, there are some problems with one also being Sarah's father. Christian died in 1875 and Henry had moved his family to Missouri by the 1870 census. That leaves Pleasant as a possibility. Not many details on this Pleasant Begley to theorize.


Gossip also says that Andrew Jackson Bray divorced Susan for adultery in 1865, when Cordelia would have been about 1-1/2 to 2 years old. If she did have the name Begley at the time of her birth, why did Andrew wait so long to divorce Susan? I believe he may have caught her in an affair, perhaps even with George in 1865 after George mustered out of the service, and Andrew got custody of their four children. After the divorce he somehow learned that Cordelia was not his child and, having custody of her, gave her to Susan's older sister, Mary Anderson Payne Lyon to raise. How did it come to light, if Cordelia did not possess the middle name "Begley" from birth, that Andrew was not her father?

Unless a man is not sexual with his wife, the wife would be certain whom the father of her children are? Andrew fathered many children during his three marriages, so he doesn't seem to be non-sexual. Perhaps Susan, in a heated moment during the custody battle stated that Cordelia wasn't Andrew's daughter so all her children wouldn't be taken from her. Andrew erroneously put it together that due to the recent affair with George that Cordelia was George's daughter, hence how the rumor got started. But it all backfired on Susan, as Andrew gave Cordelia away to Susan's older sister Mary Anderson Payne Lyon to raise.

Oddly, George didn't take up with Susan after she was divorced, nor did he ever claim Cordelia as his own. George did marry Susan's niece, Minerva Payne, in 1866, while Cordelia went to live with Minerva's mother, Mary Anderson Payne Lyon. Susan gave birth to 5 children after the divorce: Nancy in 1875, Sarah in 1878, Liza in 1879 and William in 1883. The fifth child is unknown and may have died at birth or shortly thereafter. No man is ever associated with Sarah, as she lives her life as a domestic in other people's homes until she's too old and then lives with her daughter Nancy's family until she dies in 1917. No man is ever associated with these 4-5 children, as census records list them as having the last names of Bray or Anderson.

No Social Security application is on file for Sarah, the longest living of Susan's children, which would list her father and mother's names. Susan's youngest child, William Bray, lists Susan Anderson Bray and Andrew Jackson Bray as his parents on his Social Security application; however, he was born in 1883 and Andrew divorced Susan in 1865. Andrew was a single man from 10 Jan 1886 when his second wife dies until 4 Jul 1889 when he marries his third wife, but he is never connected with Susan after the divorce. They did live in the same county, Hancock, on the 1870 census, but for the most part he lives in Scott county, Virginia until his passing in 1917.

Unfortunately, Susan's family has nothing to do with her either after the divorce. Her father, Elijah Abijah Anderson, wills part of his estate to Susan's three children by Andrew: Gerome, Martha, and Hattie. He left nothing to Susan or any of her other children. Andrew Jackson Bray willed Cordelia $50 if she was alive at the time of his death, but she had already passed away.

It is interesting that there is a long gap between Susan's children. From 1863, when Cordelia was born, to 1875, when Nancy was born. That's 12 years of abstinence or luck, but the sudden addition of Nancy, Sarah, Liza, and William in 8 years might indicate one man in her life at that time.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
mrsrockybe 24 Sep 2011 11:24PM GMT 
David Jones 5 Nov 2011 1:53AM GMT 
JanicePilling... 10 Nov 2011 4:57PM GMT 
Marcie Bray 27 Dec 2013 10:20PM GMT 
Marcie Bray 31 Dec 2013 5:05PM GMT 
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