Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Moving 3 - Mayfield Family

Since my last post, we have finished our move to the new condo and the old house is up for sale. We are still settling in, trying to find a place for all the items we brought with us. We have sold, given away or discarded loads of stuff, some quite valuable, we thought, but for which there was limited or no interest to others to purchase it. So we have downsized in space and things.

This post deals with another ancestral line who also moved from Maryland in the early 19th century. Thomas and Ellen (Tunstall) Mayfield came to the US around 1811 we think, settling soon after in Baltimore. No passenger or other records have yet been found to confirm that date. They had two children born in London in 1804 and 1805. The rest of their seven children were all born in Baltimore. Ellen died there around 1833. Thomas was a medical doctor and presumably practiced in Baltimore. A family story states he fought for the US side in the War of 1812.

According to a biography of one of his sons, also a physician, Thomas and several of his children moved to Jefferson County, Indiana in 1834, where he farmed and practiced medicine until his death there in 1859.

It is very likely that Thomas Mayfield travelled to Indiana via the National Road, previously called the Cumberland Road. Work on it was started in 1811 beginning in Cumberland, Maryland. It was open to Wheeling, West Virginia by 1818 and to Indianapolis by 1829. It would later be extended to St. Louis, Missouri on the Mississippi River. Private toll roads already existed between Baltimore and Cumberland, Maryland where the new road to the west began.
Map showing the major towns and cities along the Cumberland or National Road downloaded August 18, 2015 from http://www.legendsofamerica.com/ah-nationalroad.html
A previous trail had been built in 1755, primarily for the military, by Virginia troops and British regulars. It was named after their commander, General Edward Braddock of the Coldstream Guards – Braddock Road. George Washington accompanied the Braddock expedition to the Ohio region against the French who occupied the lands. The road was the first major route to cross the Appalachian Mountains. The Cumberland Road generally paralleled the route set out by Braddock’s men but much improved for wagon traffic.
With the completion and improvements of the National Road, the northern interior was open to settlers the length of the Ohio River right into Indiana. Members of my Mayfield family were in all likelihood part of those groups that moved westward in search of new land and opportunity in that rapidly-developing state.

The move to Indiana was a major event in my family’s history. It was a way station for many branches of the family for at least a couple of generations. From there, many families eventually moved further west to Kansas and Oklahoma as those territories opened up. My 2nd great-grandmother, Hannah Tunstall (Mayfield) Miller-Watson was one of those later migrants, moving there with her second husband. She had lived in Cincinnati, Ohio with my 2nd great-grandfather, John Conrad Miller, and where three of her six children were born. The background picture on this blog is of Hannah’s family.
Map showing the major events and residence locations of members of the Mayfield family along with the route taken during moves to new locations
I’ll have more to say about those further migrations in a later Moving post here.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated


  1. Hello Wayne. My Mom does our family's genealogy and is stuck. Having recently taken an interest in it as well, I became determined to "un-stick" her research. According to the records she has now our paths cross through Thomas Mayfield and Ellen Tunsal Mayfield and their daughter Ellen who was married to Thomas Sheehy. Now the problem with this is I cannot find ANY records for either Ellen (the younger) or Thomas Sheehy. I did run across a marriage license for a Thomas Sheehey (this name is got more variations -- SIGH) to an Elizabeth Mayfield in Jennings Co., IN in 1838.

    You haven't, by some grace the genealogy gods, run across anything that could link Ellen to a husband in Indiana or an Elizabeth in the Mayfield family?

    I'm really hoping to impress my very experienced DAR Mom :-) She didn't leave me too many puzzles to solve but I'd so like to find this piece.

    Thank you for taking the time to consider this.

    1. Tricia,
      If you have a marriage for Ellen then you are further along than I am. I do know she had died by 1890 as a biography of her brother, Isaac, published in 1890 states she was no longer alive. The only other reference I have for her is the 1850 US census when she was still living at home with her father, aged 21. If you can let me know how to contact your we can discuss the family. I won't published your email address.

    2. Hello Wayne. Did you and Tricia make any headway on the Mayfield front? We believe that Ellen Mayfield (the younger), who married Thomas Sheehy, is my great great great grandmother. I'm trying to factually link their son, Thomas Henry Sheehy, to them. His place of birth varies by source (Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio), but his gravestone in Sparkman Cemetary in Poplar Bluff, Missouri says his date of birth is April 26, 1844. Any guidance you might be able to provide on findings would be very much appreciated, as this link seems to be where everyone in my family's progress becomes very unclear. Thanks for your thoughts and consideration. Melanie Sheehy Garland

    3. Melanie,
      I am afraid neither of us have found what happened to Ellen. As I indicated, I believe she was deceased by 1880. If you would send me your email address we can communicate apart from this blog.