In Search of Dorcas Shaw

There was some connection between the family of James Stewart and a family of Shaws.  This page summarizes my attempt to explore that relationship.

James Stewart’s youngest son Andrew Stewart died of disease in New Orleans in early February 1815 while serving in the 2nd Regiment (Williamson’s) of Mounted Gunmen, Tennessee Volunteers.  His nuncupative will recorded a few months later in Lincoln County, Tennessee left his entire estate to his brother Joseph Stewart of Knox County “except a silk dress which I leave to my cousin Darkes Shaw.

Let’s assume for the moment that Dorcas Shaw was literally a first cousin of Andrew Stewart.  There are three possibilities:

  • James Stewart’s wife Margaret (and Andrew Stewart’s mother) was a Shaw
  • Dorcas Shaw’s mother was a Stewart
  • Dorcas Shaw’s mother and Margaret Stewart were sisters, maiden name unknown

If any of these are true then the Shaw-Stewart connection must have predated their arrival in Tennessee.  If we can identify the origins of the Shaws, we might determine the origins of the Stewarts.  (Of course, we can’t ignore the possibility that Dorcas Shaw was a second cousin, which has less value as a geographic clue.  It also seems clear from the evidence we have that Andrew Stewart’s use of “cousin” was unlikely to have been used in the older sense of niece or step-sister.)

Three Shaw Siblings:  William, Sarah, and Dorcas

There were three Shaw siblings who all obtained land on Bradshaw Creek in the part of Lincoln County that became Marshall County in 1836. They lived quite near one another after about 1815, if not earlier.  The 1820 census of Lincoln County shows William Shaw, Sarah (Shaw) Doak, and Daniel Bauchman (husband of Dorcas Shaw) enumerated within the space of 19 names. The 1830 census shows all three enumerated within the space of twelve names. By 1840, when the area had become Marshall County, William Shaw and Daniel Bachman were enumerated only one name apart (and Sarah Doak was apparently deceased.)  Daniel and Dorcas Bachman, as well as Sarah Doak, were buried in the now-defunct Bachman Family Cemetery.

I have not found any sign of a Shaw parent in Lincoln County or in its predecessor Bedford County.

Dorcas Shaw (c1798 – 1855)

Dorcas Shaw (1800-1855), the wife of Daniel Bachman or Baughman (1787-1868) was buried in the old Bachman Family Cemetery in Marshall County, Tennessee.1  According to an Internet posting, his birth date and his undated marriage to Dorcas Shaw is listed in his brother’s family Bible.  This is confirmed by a family history that states that Daniel Bachman was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia in 1787 and settled in 1807 in Lincoln County, Tennessee at the headwaters of Bradshaw Creek and “married Dorcas Shaw, eight years his junior.”2  Her marriage must have taken place shortly after Andrew Stewart died, as her first child appears to have been born about 1816.  The 1850 census of Marshall County shows Daniel “Baukman” (63 VA) and Dorcas (50 TN).

Daniel Bachman outlived his wife.  His will, dated 9 June 1861 and proved 2 March 1868, names seven children: Ann B. (Bachman) Laurence, Jennet S. (Bachman) Clayton, John B. Bachman, William S. Bachman, Sarah D. (Bachman) Marks, Polly C. (Bachman) Banks and Margaret D. (Bachman) Downing.3

Dorcas (Shaw) Bachman, if we can believe the “8 years his junior” comment, was born about 1795 and in Tennessee according to the 1850 census.  (Her age was given as 50 in 1850 but she was aged 30-40 in 1830 and 40-50 in 1840.)  If we can believe the cemetery listing, she died in 1855.

Sarah Shaw (c1790 – 1840)

The only other grave in the Bachman family cemetery is that of Sarah Shaw Doak (? – 1840) “the widow of Captain John Doak, killed at New Orleans 1815.” 4  There is a marriage record in Davidson County, Tenessee dated 1 November 1803 for the marriage of John Doak and Sally Shaw.   The bondsman for the marriage was James Stuart — perhaps either James Stuart (Senior or Junior) of Knox County.

John Doak died at New Orleans in January 1815.  The record of the inventory and sale of John Doak’s estate in Lincoln County in 1815 shows that Sally Doak purchased nearly all the household goods.   The administrators of his estate were Samuel Doak and William Shaw, both of whom served in the same military unit.   William Shaw was the sole administrator when the final (and only) estate accounting was recorded on 23 September 1818 showing a balance of $585.24 in Shaw’s hands.  John Doak and Sarah apparently had three daughters, judging from the 1820 census.

John Doak and his brother Samuel Doak were two of thirteen children of David Doak, who left a will in Montgomery County, Virginia in 1787.5

“Sally Doak” did not remarry.  She was granted 15 acres of land on Bradshaw’s Creek on 29 December 1824.6 She was granted another 9 acres there on 20 March 1833.7  I have not checked deed records to see who sold that land.   Three years earlier, on 3 October 1821, a grant of 10 acres on the headwaters of Bradshaw’s Creek was issued to “Polly W. Doak & the other heirs of Jno. Doak, dec’d”.8  Polly was apparently the eldest of the daughters of John Doak.  Unfortunately Lincoln County marriage records no longer exist, so it is not clear what became of Polly or her sisters.9

Sarah (Shaw) Doak was born perhaps 1785-1790.  She was aged 26-45 in 1820 and 40-50 in 1830.   She either had died by the 1840 census or was enumerated in someone else’s household.  I could not find a probate record for her in either Marshall County or Lincoln County.  She may have moved elsewhere to live with one of her children.

William Shaw (c1782 – after1850)

William Shaw served in the same War of 1812 unit as John Doak and Andrew Stewart.  He and Samuel S. Doak (also a soldier in that unit) were initially co-administrators of the estate of John Doak.  By the time the estate was settled in 1818, William Shaw was the sole administrator.   He was surely a brother to Sarah Shaw and Dorcas Shaw.   He may be the same William Shaw who married Mary Tarber in Davidson County on 24 October 1803.

The three Shaw siblings remained close to one another.  William Shaw received five grants totaling 210 acres on Bradshaw Creek in 1818 and 1819.10  Daniel Bachman had four grants there in 1824.11  As did Sarah Doak (see above). The 1820 census of Lincoln County shows William Shaw, Sarah Doak, and Daniel Bauchman enumerated within the space of 19 names.  The 1830 census shows all three enumerated within the space of twelve names.  By 1840, when the area was Marshall County, William Shaw and Daniel Bachman were enumerated only one name apart (and Sarah Doak was apparently deceased.)

William Shaw appears to have been the eldest.  According to the 1850 census, he was born about 1782 in Virginia.  He was 26-45 in 1820, 40-50 in 1830, and 50-60 in 1840.   I could not find a probate record for him in either Marshall County or Lincoln County.

Bradshaw Creek

The part of upper Bradshaw Creek where all three Shaws had land was located just over the Marshall County line near the point where Marshall, Lincoln, and Giles County meet. Bradshaw Creek runs westward across the bottom of Marshall County into northern Lincoln County, then into Giles County where it turns south and crosses back into Lincoln County where it empties into the Elk River.


  • 1820 Census, Lincoln County, Tennessee

William Shaw              100010 – 30010
(14 names intervene)
Sarah Doak                  000001 – 21010                      (who was the male?)
(2 names intervene)
Daniel Bauchman        010010 – 201

  • 1830 Census, Lincoln County, Tennessee

William Shaw              1010001 – 100101
(6 names intervene)
Daniel Backman          0201011 – 202001
(3 names intervene)
Sally Doke                  0 – 0001001

  • 1840 Census, Marshall County, Tennessee

William Shaw              12101001 – 00122010001     (who was this older female?)
(1 name intervenes)
Daniel Bachman          001300001 – 0012001

  • 1850 Census, Marshall County, Tennessee

William Shaw 68 VA
Sarah Shaw 58 VA
Elen Shaw 28 TN
Dorcas Shaw 24 TN
William Shaw 20 TN
William R. Myers 17 TN
John S. Shaw 14 TN

[One household:]
Daniel Baukman 68 VA $4000 Farmer
Dorcas 50 TN
James Downing 25 VA $1000 Tanner
Margaret (Downing) 19 TN
Mary P. (Downing) 1/12 TN
George Wicker 15 TN

William Shaw – a Red Herring

There was an apparently unrelated Shaw family in Lincoln County, Tennessee that some internet posters seem to have confused with “our” Shaws.   We can, however, eliminate these persons with just a few historical documants.

The patriarch, William Shaw (5 February 1758 – 25 August 1842) applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1832 as a resident of Lincoln County, Tennessee.12  He stated that he was born 5 February 1758 in Killeleagh parish, County Down, Ireland and immigrated to Guilford County, North Carolina in 1772.   He was residing in Guilford County when he served tours of about three months each in 1775, 1776, and 1779 and then several tours of three months in 1780, altogether totaling about two years and six months.   He married Sarah Job (5 June 1766 – 9 November 1847) on 7 June 1787 in Guilford County on a bond dated 4 May 1787, a copy of which is included in the pension file.

According to his statement in the file, he resided continuously in Guilford County “until the fall of 1817 when I removed to the State of Tennessee and settled in Lincoln County.”   That is more than two years too late to explain the presence of William, Sarah, or Dorcas Shaw all of whom were in Lincoln County by 1815.  While a son might have preceded him to Tennessee it is unlikely that two unmarried daughters would have done so.

Furthermore, the 1845 affidavit of one Daniel Cooper of Lincoln County in support of the widow’s pension application states that he knew William Shaw in Guilford County during the war and afterward in Lincoln County, and that William Shaw and his wife Sarah had three children (all born prior to 1794) named Elizabeth, Joseph, and ”he is not positive of the name of the other but he thinks it was Sarah.”13  Note that “our” William Shaw, who was surely born at least ten years prior to 1794, was not mentioned.   Sarah Shaw’s will, dated 20 October 1847 and proved in December, names only three children:  Peggy Watson (wife of Samuel Watson), John J. Shaw, and Hugh Shaw.  Additional legatees were eight children of Peggy Watson and one child of John J. Shaw, as well as John J Shaw’s wife Dicy.14

The 1820 Lincoln County census shows on page 28:   William Shaw  020201 – 02101 and Joseph Shaw  000010 – 10100.  By 1830 Hugh Shaw headed a household enumerated adjacent to William and Joseph Shaw.  Joseph Shaw, born about 1790, was apparently the eldest and is said to be the same Joseph Shaw found in the 1850 census of Fayette County, Alabama.

Some Internet sources have confused Sarah Shaw, eldest child of this William Shaw, with the Sarah Shaw who married Daniel Bachman.  They are surely different persons.

Another William Shaw

A William Shaw “Senr.” applied for a Revolutionary War pension in 1832 while residing in Davidson County.15  He stated that he was born in April 1761 in Virginia and was “raised to manhood principally in what is now Wythe County on the waters of New River”.   In 1776 he volunteered for the first of two tours against the Cherokees that took him into Tennessee and over the next five years served three more tours that took him into North Carolina – a total of “not less than ten months” of militia service.  He stated that he had lived in Davidson County “upwards of 46 years”, or since about 1786.   (There is a grant recorded in Davidson County to a William Shaw in 1783.)  On 1 August 1832 Robert Weakley, age 68, stated that he known William Shaw “ever since the latter part of the year 1785”.  Weakley, a county justice, also mentioned that William Shaw was known to his acquaintances as “Honest Billy Shaw”.  On the same date the State Treasurer, Thomas Crutcher, testified that he had known Shaw for “upwards of forty years”.

He died in early 1835.  The only probate record for William Shaw (or anyone named Shaw) remaining in Davidson County is an inventory taken 15 May 1835 and recorded a few months later by his administrator Thomas T. Shaw.  It shows a very modest estate of an apparently single man.  An estate sale held the same day yielded less than $50.  The only Shaw buyer was Thomas T. Shaw – who was born in Tennessee in 1798 according to censuses.  (Of the seven Shaw females who married in Davidson County, no husbands were among the buyers at the estate sale.)  The 1850 Davidson census shows Thomas T. Shaw living one household away from a Jonas Shaw, born about 1805.

William Shaw, James Shaw, and Thomas Shaw all appear on the 1787 tax list of Davidson County.  James Shaw was an early settler who was one of the first justices appointed in 1781, probably too early to be the father of “our” Shaws.  William Shaw had a grant in 1783 and another of 640 acres in 1789.  A Robert Shaw had a 1793 grant for 224 acres.   Oddly enough, William Shaw bought land on White’s Creek just north of Nashville in 1788 from an ancestor of mine named Absalom Hooper.   His wife’s name was Susannah when he sold land on White’s Creek in 1796.

His children are unknown.  Thomas T. Shaw was presumably a son and we know he had a daughter named Mary, as on 10 January 1810 William Shaw gave permission for the marriage of his daughter Mary Shaw to James McAllister.  (James McAllister might have been the same person who married Barbara Shaw in 1822.)  There was also a William Shaw who married Susannah Wray in Davidson County on 28 February 1807.

Some Background on Daniel Bachman

J. Ross Baughman, Apart From the World: An Account of the Origins and Destinies of Various Swiss Mennonites…. (Shenandoah History Publishers, 1997), pages 146-7:

One of the grandchildren of Henry Baughman [I], by way of his son John, was Daniel Bachman, who was born in Shenandoah County in 1787.  Daniel married Dorcas Shaw, eight years his junior, and settled in 1809 at Lincoln County on the headwaters of Bradshaw Creek, at what would become a 1,300-acre farm in south-central Tennessee.  He served as an ensign in the 39th regiment of Lincoln County’s militia during the war of 1812.  Besides farming, Daniel made his living as a tanner, as did his sons John and William.  Daniel was described by his descendants as resembling the “Black Dutch”, meaning that instead of the tall, fair-colored Germanic profile, he came from the shorter, darker, Alpine stock…. [his house] still stands near present-day Delina in Marshall County…

This goes on to mention that he had seven children, although it names only four.  Besides John, it briefly mentions a daughter Sarah D. Bachman Marks, a son named William S. Bachman who settled in Arkansas, and a daughter Jennet Steele Bachman born 25 March 1818 “who preferred to be called Jane” who married in 1837 to William Green Clayton.  The latter child was apparently the source of some of the information.

  1. According to Cemeteries of Marshall County and Find-A-Grave online. []
  2. Ross Baughman, Apart From the World: An Account of the Origins and Destinies of Various Swiss Mennonites…. (Shenandoah History Publishers, 1997), pages 146-7.  Note that line implies that she was born more like 1795 than the 1800 of the cemetery listing.  Censuses suggest a birth somewhere in the 1795-1799 period. []
  3. Marshall County, Tennessee Will Book B (1855-1877), pages 228-230. []
  4. Cemetery Records of Marshall County, Tennessee. []
  5. Montgomery County, Virginia Will Book 7, pages 123-4. []
  6. Tennessee Land Grant No. 22953. Recorded 2 March 1825 in Book Z, page 321. []
  7. Tennessee Land Grant No. 12544. Recorded 16 March 1855 in Book 15, page 312. []
  8. Tennessee Land Grant No. 15885. Recorded 10 October 1826 in Book CC, page 222. []
  9. I need to check deed records for Marshall, Lincoln and Bedford. Nothing in Bedford Deed Book A. []
  10. Tennessee Grants, all recorded consecutively in Book P, pages 760-764. []
  11. Tennessee Grants, recorded in Book Y, page 829, Book 3, page 52, and Book 6 page 419 and 420. He had another grant in 1838. []
  12. Pension File W127. []
  13. The point of this is that widows were eligible for pensions only if they married prior to 1794. Obviously, they may have had children after 1794. []
  14. Lincoln County, Tennessee Will Book 1827-1850, pages 333-4. []
  15. Pension File No. S2881 []