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Submitted by: Sandi Shockley.
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Ruel Steward and Nancy Mitchaner

Ruel Steward married Nancy Mitchaner 1842 in Jackson County and had children Elizabeth, John, William, Sarepta, Eli and Lewis by 1853.

In 1852 court proceedings began, and ultimately Ruel was sentenced to prison at Jeffersonville for "assault and battery with intent to commit a murder". He was finally sent to prison in August 1852 and was released in January 1854. After that time sons Allen, Greenbury and James were born. He appears in the 1860 Jackson County census with these children, except James who was born 1861 (my great-grandfather).

In the 1870 census James appears in the household of George and Ellen (Mitchaner) Starnes....Ellen was a niece of Nancy Mitchaner. Allen appears in the household of Jesse and Cynthia (Steward) Fleetwood....Cynthia was a sister to Ruel. Lewis (called Luke) appears in the household of William Riley and Barthena (Deckard) Fleetwood....William was the son of Ruel's sister Cynthia.

I have haunted the Brownstown Courthouse for the court documents with regard to the prison sentence and cannot find them. There was no Brownstown paper at the time, and a cursory look at the Seymour newpaper film has not turned up any article which would explain what that was all about. More interesting to me though, is what happened to Ruel and Nancy Mitchaner. Since the three young sons appear in 1870 in different relatives households, it appears that perhaps something happened to cause the death of both Ruel and Nancy. I've found no cemetery records or any other information that might tell me what happened to them.

There is a long told family story that the family of the youngest son (James) has often heard, and that is that his parents were massacred by Indians. I know that Ruel had a brother Greenbury who left the area and moved on to Missouri around the 1860-1870 era and remained there, so it's possible Ruel's family went along and a massacer did occur. However, that would mean that someone went to the trouble to bring the 3 boys back here. It seems more likely they would have kept the 3 boys with them. Also, the son Greenbury born just before James disappeared by 1870 and I have no idea what happened to him. So, was there perhaps a tragic accident that took the lives of Ruel and Nancy along with their son Greenbury? Or did something from Ruel's past pop up again and cause another incident that turned tragic? There are a couple of other incidents of lawlessness different members of this family were involved in, so I won't rule anything out. I'd just like to know what happened to Ruel and Nancy.

Any help you may be able to give would be greatly appreciated.

If you have any information, you can email Sandi.