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John Storms and Hannah Collard: My Mystery Ancestors

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By: Patricia Craig Johnson

NelsonJohn Storms and Hannah Collard have been in the back of my mind for years.  Since finding that Simon Pryor Jr. married Margaret Storms 20 May 1813[1] I have wanted to prove the identity of her parents.  I felt the logical prospects were John Storm and his wife, Hannah Collard.  The problem was that I could not find much about John Storms, and nothing to indicate that he had a daughter named Margaret.  The strongest clue I had was that Margaret named her first two Pryor children Hannah and John which could have been for her parents.[2]

I had resigned myself to simply “adopting” John Storms, whether he was my ancestor or not. He was such an interesting man that I wanted to belong to him one way or the other.  However, after years of research, I can now share his story as his descendant.  In the following article,  I will share how I proved that John Storms and Hannah Collard are my ancestors, as well as dispel the myth that John Storms married a third time to Patsy Poole while Hannah was still alive. I will also share what I know about Hannah Collard.

The John Storms Story

John Storms’ early life is still a mystery to me. There are many researchers that say John Storms was born about 1755 in Frederick County, Maryland,[3]  and that he was the son of Johann Jacob Strum and Anna Maria Dillinger.[4]  He enlisted in the Twelfth Virginia Regiment on 11 December 1776.[5]  On 6 May 1776 he was transferred to the Commander-in –Chief’s Guard, commanded by Captain Caleb Gibbs.[6]  However, John Storms deserted this golden assignment on 18 April 1779.[7]  Being an American Revolution enthusiast, this last information disappointed me greatly.  I had to remember the genealogist’s golden rule: do not judge.  That is very important because we never know the whole story. I resigned myself to having found my first ancestor that was a Revolutionary War deserter.

He made up for his earlier military record when I discovered he was involved in the battle of Fallen Timbers. In 1794 he served in that campaign under the command of General Anthony Wayne.[8] His military record for the battle of Fallen Timbers found in the muster roll and pay roll shows he enlisted 14 July 1794 to serve until 26 October 1794.[9]  His pay rate was $1 per day for 105 days.  He was advanced $15 and had $90 due on the payroll record.[10]  A note on the muster roll stated that his horse was lost 28 August 1794. The battle of Big Timbers took place on 20 August 1794.[11]

There is evidence that John had older children from a previous marriage.  The ones I know of are Peter, William, and Sarah Storms.[12] John Storms came to Kentucky with his friend, Jacob Layman, from Pennsylvania[13] and children of these two men married when Peter Storms and Ann Layman married 18 March 1804[14]. Sarah Storms  and Michael Layman married in February 1805 [15] in Hardin County, Kentucky. William Storms was the head of household in 1810 in Grayson County, Kentucky and living one household away from John Storms.[16] The fact that he is an adult by 1810 and living nearby, convinces me that he is one of Johns Storms children with his first wife. No further information about William has been found to date.

John’s earliest Kentucky record that I have found is his marriage to Hannah Collard in Nelson County, Kentucky on 5 December 1789.[17]  Their children, that I know of, were Mary (married James Litsey),[18] Elizabeth (married William Keith),[19] Daniel B. (married Sarah Collard),[20] and Margaret (married first Simon Pryor Jr and second, Isaac Hart).[21]  The reason I believe Mary is the daughter of Hannah is because her marriage bond was signed by both John and Hannah, and it states “by her parents,” whereas the bond for Sarah Storms was signed by John Storms alone.

John Storms is listed on the Nelson County, Kentucky, tax lists from 1791-95.[22]  He and Hannah sold one hundred acres on Beech Fork to Edward Montgomery in Nelson County, Kentucky, on 14 September 1796.[23]   He is listed on the Hardin County, Kentucky, tax lists from 1800-05.[24]  John’s last place of residence was Grayson County, Kentucky.  He is listed on the 1810

Grayson County, Kentucky, census[25] and tax lists from 1811-15.[26]   He served on juries in Grayson County, Kentucky from 1811-13.[27]

Where and when John Storms died is not certain. However, I did find the following message on GenForum: “In the Leitchfield Gazette, Grayson County, Kentucky 7 August 1925, in an article entitled History of the Layman Family, Judge J.R. Layman states that John Storms came to Kentucky about the same time as Joachim Layman. He was on Washington’s staff in the Revolutionary War. He moved to Leitchfield and died in the old Rogers House in that town.”[28] I have not located the old Rogers House, however, there is a Kentucky historical marker at a place called The Cedars.  This marker, near Leitchfield, Kentucky tells that the mansion called The Cedars was built around an old log house of the Rogers family.[29]

The Hannah Collard Story

Because Hannah Collard was listed as age one hundred in 1850,[30] it is believed that she was born in 1750.  The 1850 Grayson County, Kentucky, census shows Hannah Kirkpatrick living with her daughter, Mary, and her husband, James Litsey, and that Hannah was born in Virginia.[31]  She was the daughter of Richard and Sarah Collard.[32] It is interesting that if Hannah Collard was born in 1750 and married in 1789 she was nearly forty years old at the time of her marriage to John Storms. The 1810 Grayson County, Kentucky, census shows John and Hannah’s family consisting of one male 16-25 (Daniel B.); one female 10-15 (Margaret) and one female 16-25 (Elizabeth).[33] Her daughter, Mary Storms Litsey, was married in 1808 so she had left the home by 1810.[34] Of course, without actual birth records the birth order is speculation.  The only birth that is documented is that of Margaret Storms.  Susanna Pryor’s Bible record says she was born 11 December 1796.[35]

After John Storms died, Hannah married Joseph Kirkpatrick.[36]  Joseph Kirkpatrick’s first wife died about 1812.[37]  Joseph died in the summer of 1819 and mentioned his wife, Hannah, in his will.[38]  In 1820 Hannah Kirkpatrick is listed as the head of household in Grayson County, Kentucky.[39]  In 1830,[40] 1840,[41] and 1850[42] Hannah is living with her daughter, Mary Litsey, and her husband, James. Her exact death date is unknown at this time, but it is between1850-60. She is not listed in the 1860 Grayson County, Kentucky, census.

Margaret Storms’ Father

I decided to order the Grayson County, Kentucky, tax lists on microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I hoped to answer the question, “was John Storm living in the vicinity of the Simon Pryor family in 1813?”[43]  Were they neighbors or physically near each other when Simon Pryor Jr. and Margaret Storms married?  Finally, my microfilm arrived. I read it and I wrote down all of the Grayson County people I was interested in. When I got home I entered all of my notes into an Excel spreadsheet.

Grayson Image1

Grayson Image2

I learned years ago to write down everything in a record, especially the dates in Kentucky tax lists. Why the date? Because the tax clerk wrote down people as they came in. If two men came in to file on the same date and were from the same part of the county, they probably traveled to the courthouse together. This could signify a familial or other close relationship.

I looked at my spreadsheet for some time before I realized I was looking at the proof I had long been seeking.  Simon Pryor Jr. and John Storms came to the courthouse on the same day, 17 April 1813.[44]  One month later, 20 May 1813, Simon Pryor Jr. and Margaret Storms were married, according to his mother’s written record.[45] Now I feel as if I have seen a tiny glimpse of the life of these ancestors.  Simon Jr. likely worked for John Storms and fell in love with his seventeen- year-old daughter.  Needless to say, I am grateful that he did.

Simon Pryor Jr. is last listed on the 1816 Grayson County tax list.[46] His mother says he died in April 1818 and I firmly believe that is true.[47] A mother would never forget when her child died. It was apparently after he traveled to the courthouse to file the 1817 tax.

Margaret Storms Pryor lost her father and her husband within a short time of each other. She was one month pregnant with her third child when Simon Pryor Jr. died.[48] I can only imagine the sadness and uncertainty she felt at that time. She went on to marry Isaac Hart about 1820[49] and had four more sons and three more daughters.[50] I have not found her death information. I do not know why Simon Jr. died so young.  Perhaps I will learn that in the future.

The John Storm and Patsy Poole Myth Laid To Rest

To show the power of the Internet, the story has circulated and repeated over and over again that John Storm of Grayson County, Kentucky, married a third wife named Patsy Poole in White County, Illinois. I wanted to know if this story was true. After ordering and reading numerous microfilms I can finally put this theory to rest.
#1. In the White County, Illinois, Index to Probate, Patsy Stum (wife of John Stum/Storms) is the only child of Thomas and Fanny Poole in a probate case dated August 1829.[51]

#2. In White County, Illinois, listed in the Phillipstown Old Cemetery, Phillips Twp., is John Stum who died 18 February 1839, age fifty-six, and Martha Stum, his wife, died 6 November 1834, age thirty-one.[52]

Patsy is a nickname for Martha so this must be the Patsy Poole that so many think my John Storm married in 1816.  The math shows that this Martha would be only about age thirteen in 1816 at the time of the imaginary marriage to a man born about 1755-56.  I believe this puts to rest this long standing myth.

The Mystery Continues

The details I have learned about John Storms and Hannah Collard have helped me understand them better, yet mystery still surrounds some aspects of their lives.  There are so many things I would like to know about them, but I am content that I have learned a little bit about these elusive and interesting ancestors. I am proud to be their fifth great-granddaughter.

The migration route of this family is as follows:

John Storms, from Frederick County, Maryland to Virginia to Nelson County, Kentucky; to Hardin County, Kentucky; to Grayson County, Kentucky.

Hannah Collard, from Virginia to Nelson County, Kentucky; to Hardin County, Kentucky; to Grayson County, Kentucky.

Daughter Margaret Storms Pryor Hart, from Grayson County, Kentucky; to Hardin County, Kentucky; to Coles County, Illinois.

Grandson, John Pryor from Grayson County, Kentucky; to Coles County, Illinois.

Great Granddaughter, Margaret Pryor Meech from Coles County, Illinois; to Linn County, Kansas

Great Great Granddaughter, Faithy Ellen Meech Craig, from inn County, Kansas; to Bates County, Missouri; to Linn County, Kansas.   Linn County, Kansas is where Faithy Ellen Meech married William Craig in 1884[53] and had my grandfather, Claude Leolis Craig in 1886.[54]

About the Author:

Johnson, Patricia CraigPat’s area of expertise is in American Revolutionary research.  She is a regular contributor to the Kentucky Historical Society magazine, Kentucky Ancestors.  As a FHC staff member Pat aids researchers at the Family History Center in Fort Collins, Colorado and belongs to the Larimer County Genealogical Society.  She is the Registrar of Friday’s Council Tree Chapter, NSDAR, in Windsor, Colorado.  Pat presents genealogical programs in Colorado and Wyoming, and has been a speaker at the Colorado Family History Expo.


[1] Simon Pryer, Revolutionary War pension application submitted by Susanna Pryer, W2854, Revolutionary War pensions and bounty land warrant files, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Footnote.com, (www. Footnote.com) (retrieved 25 January 2005).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Pat Collard Betton, The Collard Family Past And Present, Springfield, Ohio, no publish date, page 4.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Carlos E Godfrey, M. D. The Commander-In-Chief’s Guard, Revolutionary War, Baltimore, Maryland, 1972, 255.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8]1794  Kentucky Volunteers, Whitaker’s Battalion, muster and payrolls, NARA, Washington, D.C.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Rootsweb Message Boards, http://boards.rootsweb.com/localities.northern.usa.states.Kentucky.Grayson (retrieved

5 February 2005).

[13] Grayson County Historical Society, Historical Sketches and Family Histories Grayson County, Kentucky, 2007, 298.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] 1810 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 243

[17] Nelson County Genealogists, Marriage, Bond & Consent’ Book of Nelson County 1785-1800, Bardstown, Kentucky  no date, 108.

[18] Grayson County, Kentucky, Marriage Bond Book A, 21.

[19] Goodspeed, History of Knox and Daviess Counties, Indiana (Chicago, Illinois, 1886), 523/524.

[20] Tom Stephens, “Descendants of Elijah Collards and Jane Whitefield of Nelson, Hardin, Grayson Counties,” Kentucky Ancestors (V35-2) 199, 72.

[21] Simon Pryer, Revolutionary War pension application.

[22] Nelson County, Kentucky List of Tithables 1785-1795, Family History Library (FHL) microfilm number 9670.

[23] Nelson County, Kentucky Clerk of the County Court, Deed Book 5, 84.

[24] Hardin County, Kentucky Tax Books 1793-1825, (FHL) microfilm number 8013.

[25] 1810 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 16.

[26] Grayson County, Kentucky Tax Books 1810-1875, (FHL) microfilm number 8001.

[27] Nancy Y. Robinson, The First Grayson County Court Record Book January 23, 1810-April 28,1814 (Grayson County Historical Society, 2003-04), 59, 237, 251.

[28] Genforum message, http://www.genforum.genealogy.com/storms/messages/505.html (retrieved 23 Jun 2010).

[29] Commonwealth of Kentucky historical marker, The Cedars, Grayson County, Kentucky, visited 11 August 2011.

[30] 1850 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 9.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Pat Collard Betton, 4.

[33].1810 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 16.

[34] Grayson County, Kentucky Marriage Bond Book A, 21.

[35] Simon Pryer, Revolutionary War application.

[36] Internet message boards, http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/surnames.collard/143.2.1/mb.ashx (retrieved 19 December 2010).

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] 1820 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 142.

[40] 1830 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 369.

[41] 1840 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 161..

[42] 1850 U.S. census, Grayson County, Kentucky, 9..

[43] Grayson County, Kentucky Tax Books 1810-1875, (FHL) microfilm number 8001.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Simon Pryer, Revolutionary War pension application.

[46] Grayson County, Kentucky Tax Books 1810-1875, (FHL) microfilm number 8001.

[47] Simon Pryer, Revolutionary War pension application.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Correspondence from Margaret Lambson, Isaac Hart family Bible transcription (received 10 February 2005).

[50] Ibid.

[51] White County, Illinois, Probate Journal, Vol B, 1822-1844, 64.

[52] White County, Illinois Cemeteries, (FHL) microfilm number 848639 items 4-5, 29.

[53] Marriage entry for Faithy Ellen Meech and WilliamCraig, Linn County, Kansas Marriage Licenses, Probate Court, Mound City, Kansas, 307.

[54]Birth Entry for Claude Craig, Linn County, Kansas Birth Register, Book 2, Probate Court, Mound City, Kansas,18.

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