My next ancestor is from my Daddy’s side of the family, through his mother Jessie Holeman Doss, and this ancestors name was Rhoda Elizabeth Thurman. She was possibly a daughter of Labon Thurman of Pittsylvania County, Virginia and she was my third great-grandmother. Rhoda was born in about 1785 in Virginia, probably in Pittsylvania County. I don’t know of any siblings or her mother’s name yet, though my Daddy looked for years and I have done some looking myself as well, but so far I have not been able to find anything about her life before she was married. I do know that there is a Labon Thurman getting married in 1797 in Pittsylvania County, Virginia to a Molly Morris Bow, but if this is Rhoda’s father I still don’t know for certain, but Molly would not be her mother.
Rhoda probably married sometime between 1799 and 1804, possibly in Virginia to Phillip Valorius Doss. Phillip was a son of James Doss and Elizabeth Lester and was born in about 1775, probably in Pittsylvania County, Virginia as well. Rhoda and Phillip soon became the parents of at least seven known children with the first four being born in Pittsylvania County, Virginia and the last three in Kentucky possibly in Cumberland or Wayne Counties.
These seven known children were: Joel Burgess Doss 1804-before 1880, married Mildred Hurt (my 2nd great-grandparents); James Doss 1805-1860, married Nancy Hurt (sister to Mildred Hurt); female Doss about 1807-after 1841, married to William R. Doss (He was probably a cousin of hers and I don’t know her first name. The reason I know about her marriage to W R is from his prison record. He was sentenced to 2 years for bigamy in October of 1841. The prison record mentions his 2nd wife by name but not his first wife, only that her brother Philip Doss lives in Marshall County and another brother lives in Rutherford County.); Phillip Valorius Doss, Jr. 1807-1864, married to Sina R. Dixon; Labon Thurman Doss 1811-1887, married to Mary Ann Wilkerson; Samuel William Doss 1812-1895, married to Barbara Rogers and then Mrs. Martha A. Boyd; and the last child, Anna Doss 1813-1888, married to William Choat.
Rhoda did not have an easy life and apparently Phillip didn’t help out in that area, because in 1804 he was getting arrested for stealing a hog in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. It is a wonder that he wasn’t strung up for such an offense, because that was almost as bad as killing someone back in those days. If you stole food from people that could have been a hanging matter and you could have been thrown out of the town or county as well, people didn’t stand for food being stolen, no matter if you needed it yourself or not. Phillip Doss is on the tax rolls in Pittsylvania County, Virginia from 1799 to 1810 and by 1811, Rhoda and Phillip and their children are headed for Kentucky.
I don’t find Philip Doss on any records in Kentucky other than being mentioned as the deceased husband of Rhoda Doss. The following record from Wayne County, Kentucky court records, pages 247-248, shows that Philip Doss was dead by June 14, 1814 when the court, "Ordered that a summons be issued against Rhoda Doss, widow of Philip Doss, deceased, returnable here to the next court to shew cause if any she has or can say why the orphans of the said Philip Doss may not be bound out according to law." Next in Adair County, Kentucky Court Order Book B, page #494, dated January 3, 1815 - Sheriff ordered to apply $15 toward the support of Rhoda Doss, a poor woman of the county.
Rhoda’s boys were being apprenticed to a few different people after their father’s death and family stories say that Rhoda would sneak them away during the night and go hide out somewhere with her children until the courts caught up with her again. They were being apprenticed out instead of letting them stay with her, to help her out. This was a very common practice and it didn’t matter if the father had died or the mother, and especially if the family was poor, they would apprentice the children out.
Here are just a few of the court records I have found where this is happening. Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book C, page 447, dated November 8, 1814 - Joel Doss, a poor boy of the county apprenticed to William Minter for 9 years, or until he reaches the age of 21. Minter to teach and instruct apprentice in the art and mystery of cotton carding and spinning. Said apprentice to be taught reading, writing, and common arithmetic. Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book C, page 472, dated January 3, 1815 - Phillip Doss, a poor boy of the county apprenticed to Levi McCrocky for 13 years, 5 months, or until he becomes 21 years of age, to be taught the art and mystery of cabinet making. Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book D, page 397 dated September 9, 1817 - Phillip Doss, poor boy of the county, apprenticed to William Minter to dwell for 9 years and 9 months or until 21, to learn the wool carding business. Cumberland County, Kentucky Deed Book D, pages 147 & 149, dated November 9, 1819 - William Doss and Laban Doss, poor boys of the county are apprenticed to Samuel G. Cheatham to dwell until 21 years, to serve as apprentices in the art of cabinet making. He will provide sufficient meat, drink and apparel, washing, lodging, and will teach or cause to be taught and instructed in reading, writing and will provide for such apprentices so there will be no charge to the county during said term, and at expiration of said term pay 3 pounds, 10 shillings and allow a decent suit of new clothes at end of service. Adair County, Kentucky Deed Book E, page 663, dated April 1, 1822 - William Doss, poor boy of the county, apprenticed to Stephen Rogers until he reaches 21 years, to learn the art and mystery of shoe and boot making. Adair County, Kentucky Court Order Book B, dated February 3, 1823 - On motion of William Minter by his attorney, it is ordered he be released from his covenant of indentures of apprenticeships binding Joel Doss, James Doss, Philip Doss and John Wheeler as apprentices to him to learn the art and mystery of the cotton spinning and wool carding business, and said apprentices are released from their apprenticeships. Said boys are bound to Asa and William Pittman to learn same business.
The following maps for Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas show where Rhoda, Phillip and their children all lived throughout the years, from birth till death and are circled in red.
I have found Rhoda on the 1820 and 1830 census records in Cumberland County, Kentucky and some of her children are with her. By 1840 I haven’t found her, though she could be the female in the 40 to 50 age bracket, in the home of Labon Doss in Barren County, Kentucky. Then in 1850 she is living with her son, Samuel William Doss, in Christian County, Kentucky.
I don’t know what kind of a home Rhoda and her family lived in, probably log, but it could have been some kind of a clap board as well. I found a couple of different pictures of what I hope her home may have looked like, but I doubt it looked quite as good as these.
I don’t know when Rhoda died, but family records have always said that she died over in Farmington, St. Francois County, Missouri. On the 1860 census in St. Francois County there is a Lorinda Doss who is 46 born in Kentucky with children also born in Kentucky named: Samuel Doss, age 18, Henry Doss, age 14, James Doss, age 12 and Martha Doss, age 11. I don’t know who this Lorinda is, but I wonder if somehow she was related to Rhoda and maybe Rhoda was living with her when she passed away. I found this family on the 1850 census in Barren County, Kentucky all born in Kentucky: James Doss, age 40, Dorinda Doss, age 36, John Doss, age 15, Samuel Doss, age 11, Henry Doss, age 8, James Doss, age 3 and Martha E. Doss, age 1. I know where Rhoda’s son James Doss lived, married and died and it is not the James Doss who was in Barren County in 1850, my James Doss was in Crittenden County, Kentucky in 1850. I believe this James Doss was possibly a son of Ambrose Doss.
So as you can see Rhoda Elizabeth Thurman Doss, was a very poor woman. She raised her children from the time the youngest was less than a year old by herself, after her husband Phillip died. So many of our women ancestors had to go through very similar things in their lives, you had to be strong back in those days to endure what many of them had to endure. She never remarried and she was between 65 and 75 years old when she passed away, sometime after the 1850 census was taken and before the 1860 census. Did she really die in Kentucky, maybe in Christian County or did she go as an older woman to Missouri after 1850 and die there? There are many questions about her life that I will probably never know, but she is an ancestor we can be proud of, for taking care of her children, and trying to keep them all together.