The James Slavens Family

My great-grandfather, James Slavens, is somewhat of a man of mystery in the Slavens genealogical circle. The mystery surrounding his birth and parents is addressed on the "Who was James Slavens" page; here we'll focus on what we do know of James and his family from census records, court records, history books, and other published sources.

The earliest reference to "my" James Slavens found to date is a record of his marriage. In the papers of John "Raccoon" Smith, a minister in the Montgomery County, Kentucky area in the first decades of the 19th century, is a record of his uniting James Slavens and Mary "Polly" Davis in marriage on 10 May 1829 in Bath County. The marriage date is also listed in "Court House Records, B2 1816-1866, page 24, Bath Co., Kentucky." Mary was the daughter of Enoch Davis, who had served in Morrison's Company of Infantry of the Kentucky Militia in the War of 1812 with Isaiah and Thomas Slavens. According to Davis family records, Mary was sweet young thing of 16 when she married; James was perhaps 22. Her father was the son of a Welsh immigrant who settled near Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky.

Eel River Township plat. Within a few months of their marriage, James and Mary moved to northwestern Hendricks County, Indiana, along with the rest of the Davis clan-- James's in-laws and nearly a dozen brothers- and sisters-in-law. In addition, Enoch's brother Nathaniel Davis and Nathaniel's large family also moved to the same area of Hendricks County. As you might expect, the cemeteries there are full of Davis kin, and even today many in the North Salem area count Davis ancestors.

The Slavens and Davis families lived in Eel River Township north of North Salem. Pinpointing James and Mary's residence those first few years may be impossible as they did not own any land until Enoch Davis sold 40 acres to Mary and "the heirs of her body" for a hundred dollars in August 1835. However, we do know the family was in Eel River township as they were enumerated there in the 1830 census (apparently next door to Enoch Davis), and James appears on voter rolls for the township in 1831-2... and in court records for committing "salt and batery" on 28 Jan. 1832, for which he was fined $1.00. The Slavens "homestead"-- the property sold to Mary Slavens by her father-- was in the southeast corner of section 29, where a branch of Walnut Creek cuts across the section.

The first of James and Mary's children was born 6 Feb. 1831 and was named Harvey. He was followed by Nancy Ann, 28 June 1833; Willis, 1 Nov. 1835; Jesse, 18 March 1838; Milton in 1840, and Mary in 1844. It's thought that mother Mary died during or shortly after the birth of their last child. According to later obituaries, the family was broken up following Mary's death and not reunited until after James remarried. While no records have been found as to the dispensation of the Slavens children during this time, it seems likely that they were taken in by their Davis aunts and uncles. No records have been found of Mary's death date or burial place.

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