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Mrs. John W. Ferguson or Mrs. John Wesley Fergusson of Richmond?

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Mrs. John W. Ferguson or Mrs. John Wesley Fergusson of Richmond?

Posted: 10 Dec 2012 4:27PM GMT
Classification: Query
Surnames: Lewellen, Morris, Ferguson, Fergusson, Shelton, Hanlon
Recently, searching for information on members of the Lewellen family in and around Campbell County, Virginia, I found this obituary for John Richard Lewellen (whose name appears more often, as in this obituary, as J. Richard Lewellen) on page 4 of the 5 December 1886 edition of The Richmond Times:

“Death of Col. J. Richard Lewellen—Brief Sketch of His Life.”

“Col. J. Richard Lewellen, editor of the Danville Register, died yesterday morning at 12.20 o’clock, aged 65 years.

Col. Lewellen was born in Lynchburg in 1821, and in that city served his apprenticeship as a printer. After living a short time in the West he came to Richmond and worked for some time on the Richmond Whig. He afterwards went to Petersburg, and from that city went with a company to the Mexican war.

After that he married in Richmond Miss Virginia L. Morris. He was living in Petersburg when the war between the States broke out, and entered the Confederate army as captain of Company K of the Twelfth Virginia Regiment. He was afterwards promoted to major of that command. He returned to Petersburg after the war and was connected successively to the News and Index. He afterwards went to Norfolk, and was at various times on the Virginian and Journal, and was one of the founders of the Ledger. After that he moved to Danville and took charge of the Register, of which paper he had made one of the best in Virginia.

Colonel Lewellen had at various times in all of the cities of his residence been solicited to become a candidate for civic honors, particularly in the Legislature, but had uniformly refused to allow use of his name.

His remains were expected to reach Petersburg to-day, and were to be interred at old Blandford.

Colonel Lewellen leaves a wife and one child. Mrs. Lewellen is a sister of Capt. Eldrige Morris of this city, and first cousin to Mrs. John W. Ferguson. Representatives from these families, as well as other friends, will attend the funeral to-day.”

The 1850 census reported this household in Henrico County:

Dwelling 120/Family 120

LEWELLEN J. Richd 27 Male VA Printer
LEWELLEN Sarah 62 Female VA

Given the presence of Eldridge Morris in it, I’m certain the 17-year-old Virginia Morris in this 1850 household, also in Henrico County, was J. Richard Lewellen’s future bride:

Dwelling 132/Family 145

MORRIS John 58 Male VA Carpenter
MORRIS Louisa 55 Female VA
MORRIS Eldridge 19 VA Machinist
MORRIS Virginia 17 Female VA
WALKER Mary 30 Female VA

I suspect Mrs. John W. Ferguson, reported in J. Richard Lewellen’s obituary to be his wife Virginia’s first cousin, might actually have been Mr. John Wesley Fergusson.

John Wesley Fergusson was a prominent printer in Richmond both before and after the Civil War. In business with William H. McFarland as “McFarland & Fergusson,” they owned and published the “Southern Literary Messenger,” one editor of which was Edgar Allan Poe. Business partners McFarland and Fergusson reportedly attended Poe’s 16 May 1836 wedding at Yarrington's boarding house in Richmond to Virginia Eliza Clemm, his first cousin.

The entry for John Wesley Fergusson, beginning on page 551 of Volume 4 of the “Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography,” edited by Lyon Gardiner Tyler and published in 1917, reports John Wesley Fergusson married in Richmond in 1847, Elvina Godwin Shelton, a daughter of Colonel Raleigh Shelton and Mary (Reed) Shelton of Suffolk, Virginia.

This was John Wesley Fergusson’s household in Henrico County in 1880, the last census before J. Richard Lewellen died:

FERGUSSON John W. Head 58 Male Married VAVA VA Printer
FERGUSSON Eva G. Wife 48 Female Married VA VA VA Keeping House
FERGUSSON Edgar H. Son 25 Male Single VA VA VA Printer
FERGUSSON Eva Daughter 21 Female Single VA VA VA At Home
FERGUSSON Virginia D. Daughter 19 Female Single VA VA VA At Home
FERGUSSON John E. Son 14 Male Single VA VA VA At School
FERGUSSON Melville V. Son 11 Male Single VA VA VA At School
FERGUSSON Maude H. Daughter 8 Female Single VA VA VA
HANLON Mary B. Mother-in-Law 73 Female Widowed VA VA VA At Home
ANTHONY Garnett Other 23 Male Single VA VA VA Driver

A “Find A Grave” memorial reports Mary (Reed) Shelton married Richmond tailor Joseph P. Hanlon after her first husband, “Rawleigh W. Shelton,” died in 1849. Mary Hanlon is buried at Hollywood Cemetery.

There was this household in Richmond in 1850:

Dwelling 358/Family 402

HANLON Joseph P. 32 Male VA Tailor
HANLON Mary 38 Female VA
KINDRICK Ann E. 17 Female VA

Was Elvina (Shelton) Fergusson the “Mrs. John W. Ferguson” reported in J. Richard Lewellen obituary as his wife Virginia’s first cousin?

If so, who was the connection between Virginia (Morris) Lewellen and Elvina (Shelton) Fergusson?

Am I barking up the wrong Ferguson/Fergusson family tree?

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