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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Joseph Tewalt


Actual signatures of A.R. Slawson, John Shepherd, Jasper Catlett and W. Tewalt,

when they signed as bondsmen in 1854.


Wouldn’t be nice if our ancestors didn’t keep naming their children after uncles or grandfathers, or even themselves? Researchers are constantly mixing up people with the same names. A good example of this is Joseph Tewalt. Either he died twice, a rather unique occurrence you must agree, or there were two Joseph Tewalt’s living in Russellville.


The first death occurred in 1854 because the probate file at the Lawrence County courthouse states that Rachel Tewalt (the widow) resigned as Administratrix of the estate of Joseph Tewalt,deceased, in favor of A. R. Slawson. This document was filed October 24, 1854. Abner R. Slawson then was sworn in as administrator on that same date by Thomas F. Watts, the Clerk. John Shepherd, Jasper Catlett and William Tewalt posted bond for $5000 to insure that Slawson performed his duties according to law.


The 1850 census shows a Joseph Tewalt age 44, from Virginia living with Rachel, 50, Josiah, 18, and Elijah, 16. A tombstone for Joseph Tewalt states that he died Oct 10, 1854. So far, so good.


The second death of Joseph Tewalt was reported on September 14, 1888 in the Vincennes Daily Commercial. It has been suggested that the news of Tewalt’s death might have taken 34 years to reach Vincennes from Russellville, but I personally think that is highly unlikely.


obit: “Uncle Joe Tewalt, the last of a once-large family, was buried at Russellville today. He was born in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, in 1831. He died as he lived, a devoted Christian. He leaves a wife and three sons to mourn his death. He was beloved by all who knew him. When one of his companions was speaking, there were not many dry eyes in the church. Bros. Philips, Wolf and Irwin’s remarks were from the heart. The pallbearers were P.W. Beckes, J.R. Snapp, R.R. Philips, William Thomas, W.A. Noe and F.M. McCullough."


There appears to be two men named Joseph Tewalt. Or maybe not…the 1880 census says this last Tewalt’s name was actually Josiah; his wife’s name was Missouri, and they had three sons, George, Josiah and Bertie. Did the paper get it wrong? The tombstone in Tewalt Cemetery in Russellville is clearly engraved Josiah Tewalt, died September 9, 1888. So be careful genealogists of believing everything you read. Always check several sources.


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