The week 9 prompt of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is “multiples”. I am taking an indepth look at my great-great grandfather, Randall Childers, who my cousin Darlene referred to as “the bigamist” as he moved away and remarried having multiple wives.
Randall Childers was born in Wells Tannery, Pennsylvania when it was still a part of Bedford County on 17 January 1840 to Abraham Childers and Mary Ann Green. He was the oldest of their 3 children (Mary Ann had another son, Jonathan Weiser, from a previous relationship), the others being Rachel (1842-1876) and Fayetta (1844-1924). His dad was a chair maker while his mother kept house.
The Civil War
In 1861 at the age of 21 Randall enlisted for the Union joining the 77th Volunteer Pennsylvania Infantry as a part of Company A and saw action in the following battles:
- Battle of Shiloh
- Siege of Corinth
- Battle of Stones River
- Tullahoma Campaign
- Battle of Chicamauga
- Siege of Chattanooga
- Atlanta Campaign
- Battle of Resaca
- Battle of Kennesaw Mountain
- Siege of Atlanta
- Second Battle of Franklin
- Battle of Nashville
Sarah Jane Fesler
In December 1865, Randall mustered out of the army at the close of the Civil War. He returned home to Pennsylvania where he married Sarah Jane Fesler around 1866 (I have yet to find a marriage record for an exact date, this was noted on the 1900 census that they had been married for 34 years). In December 1866 their daughter, Mary Etta Childers was born. This union would provide a total of 9 children:
- Mary Etta Childers – 1866-1941
- George Harry Childers – 1868-1941
- Abraham Childers – 1870-1946
- Jennie Childers – 1873-1934
- William Dodson Childers – 1876-1959
- Elizabeth Helen Childers – 1883-1968
- Bertha Childers – 1886-1963
- Bessie Viola Childers – 1890-1963
- Charles Peter Childers – 1893-1970
After initially coming back from the war, Randall’s occupation was listed as “laborer” but by 1880 it was listed as a miner on the census. He began receiving a Civil War pension in 1879. By 1900 he is listed as a farmer, a vocation he takes with him when he moves to Tennessee by 1905. On his pension papers he changes where his payment goes and lists himself as a widower, noting his daughter, Jennie Childers (or Mrs. A.S. May) as his closest living relative).
I always thought it strange that Randall moved to Tennessee as I didn’t recall any relatives there. But after doing extra research on him, during the Civil War he was stationed at Whiteside Bridge. Though Loudon is not even the county where the bridge is located, it’s not that far.
On 8 July 1907, Randall Childers marries the former Nancy Elizabeth Rockey (I believe this is a married name, still trying to find her maiden name) in Loudon County, Tennessee.
During his 12.5 years of marriage to Nannie Childers, for 11.5 years Randall was married to two women simultaneously as Sarah Jane Fesler passed away on 19 January 1920. Sarah still lived in Pennsylvania with their children.
I’ve not seen an obituary for Randall but the post listed on Sarah’s Find A Grave clearly states they had “issues”. I have no idea what the “issues” were that made my great-great-grandfather to move a few states south and begin a new life, but they must have been something.