Friday, July 1, 2011

History of the Shumate Family by Robert S. Riley - A Brief Review

Imagine my surprise and excitement at having found a copy of Robert S. Riley's History of the Shumate Family inside the Moran family home.  I've been researching the Moran-Shumate connection and had heard about and seen the book referenced many times.  I had even searched for it online only to find one copy selling for $100 which was out of my reach but here it was now in my hot little hands and was I ever ready to see what Mr Riley had to say about ~our~ Shumates in Kentucky.

So tonight I pulled the book out and did a quick search for Virginia Shumate Moran's father, Nathan M. Shumate, and her uncle, Quincy Shumate.  Both gentlemen were sons of Champ Shumate and his first wife Martha J. McClary.   They were nowhere to be found in this 798 page tome which had been written to correct "errors" that the author says he found in a book by Theodor-Friedrich von Stauffenberg entitled The Shumate Family.  What gives?

Nathan M. Shumate (youngest son of Champ Shumate)
 with his mother Martha J. McClary Shumate, taken about 1867.
I readily admit that I have only spent about 15 minutes with this book but right off the bat I can see the following errors:

  1. Riley says that Champ Shumate's first wife was named Martha Jane Oliver. Actually, her name was Martha Jane McClary and her first husband was P.D. Oliver.  She and Oliver had one child, Newton Jasper Oliver (1840-1852), and he was living with Champ and Martha at the time the 1850 Census was taken.  At this time I don't know anything about her first husband and since he isn't a direct relative  to us any research on him is secondary.  
  2. Riley mentions the Census Records as if he had used them as sources.  The only children that are listed in the census records from 1850 - 1900 are Jason (1849-1924), Quincy (1851-1941), Belle (1853-1940), Harriet N. (1857-1863), and Nathan (1858-1899).  Riley lists an Emma J, two Eula's, Lou B., Laura and Myrtle as children of Champ Shumate.  I have found no evidence to support that.
  3. Riley says that Champ had a daughter named Lou B.Shumate.  He says that information comes from "incomplete family notes".  It's conjecture on my part but I would like to point out that Champ's son, Quincy, married a Louise Elizabeth McLean (1855-1930) and she was known as Lou Shumate and they went on to have several children of their own.  Perhaps Riley's Lou B is Quincy Shumate's wife.
  4. Riley also says that Champ had a daughter named Myrtle Shumate and as with Lou B, he says the family notes are incomplete and so he has no other information about Myrtle.  I would like to mention that Champ's youngest son, Nathan M. Shumate, was married twice. First to Margaret (Maggie) Jane Adams (1866-1896) with whom he had three daughters, May Belle (1885-1960), Virginia (1888-1970) and Louise (1891-unknown).  His second wife was Annie E. Purcell and he and Annie had one child together named Myrtle S. Shumate. (1897-unknown).  Perhaps Riley's Myrtle is the daughter of Nathan Shumate.
I don't know what sources Robert Riley used for his book and I'm sure a lot of what he reported is true but as to the information regarding Champ Shumate and his descendants Riley left out two entire branches of the Shumate tree while adding several that the evidence doesn't seem to support.

I hope the research and documentation that we present and continue to research in regards to Champ Shumate and his children will fill the huge gap that has been missing in the Shumate history of Kentucky.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, very nice :) Proud of you for doing this.