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Ancestor 11: Sarah Fagan a witness to history in 104 years of life

Sarah Fagan was Irish on the paternal side of her family.
Sarah Fagan was Irish on the paternal side of her family.
Judy Everett Ramos

This is the 11th article in the genealogy project “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

Sarah Fagan is a fourth great-grandmother. Most of the information about her comes from two sources.

One source is the book, “Everett/Everitt Family: A Genealogical History," written by A.K. Register, who was a certified genealogist and who was herself an Everett.

The second source is a book, “Laurus Crawfurdiana: Memoirs of the Crawford Family Memorials of that branch of the Crawford Family which comprises the descendants of John Crawford of Virginia.” It was written in 1883 by first cousin three times removed Frank Crawford Vanderbilt, a great-granddaughter of Sarah Fagan. Although the book is primarily about her father's Crawford ancestors, it has chapters on Everett and Hand families.

Sarah Fagan was born in 1746 in North Carolina to Bedford Fagan and his wife Mary. There is no information on Mary, but Sarah’s Irish lineage can be traced through her father.

The North Carolina Will Abstracts show Bedford Fagan died in North Carolina Sept. 12, 1777. Other online family trees show he was born in Ireland in 1725 and his father, Richard Fagan, was born in Ireland in 1706.

The North Carolina Compiled Census and Census Substitute Index 1790-1890 shows Bedford Fagan living in Tyrrell County, North Carolina in 1755 when Sarah was nine years old.

A.K. Register said Sarah Fagan married John Everett around 1772, probably in Tyrrell County. Sarah and John had seven children between 1774 and 1786.

They were Joshua, Josiah, Enoch, Jehu, Hannah, John Fagan, and Aaron. The first six children were born in North Carolina. Aaron was born in Effingham County, Ga. (now Bulloch County) in 1786.

Sarah and John moved to Georgia in 1785 after John returned from serving in the American Revolution. John Everett died in 1820 and Sarah outlived him by 31 years. John left all of his assets to Sarah with instructions to divide everything into seven shares upon her death. However, Sarah died in 1851 at the age of 104 or 105 and outlived all seven of her children.

Sarah left a noncupative will, which means she dictated it to witnesses, who wrote it down. That will is as follows as it appears in Register's book:

“We, Sarah Waters, Thomas Waters, Sr. and Sarah Ann Brannen were present on Tuesday, the 20th day of May 1851, at the residence of Sarah Everett, a widow woman before and at the time of her death, about four days before her death in perfect possession of her mental faculties she called Sarah Ann Brannen as much as twice and Sarah Ann went to her with myself and the old man, meaning Thomas Waters Sr. She said I want Ann, meaning Ann Brown, the daughter of John Barber of said county, to have all the money in the house, then she said Mr. Waters you have got the notes and keep them until you collect the money and make up $200.00 to Ann and then give Sarah Ann Brannen the balance. This 31st day of May 1851.” (Signed) Hannah Waters, Thomas Waters and Sarah Ann Brannen

The will was immediately challenged in court. The court appointed Sarah’s grandson, Jehu, son of Joshua, as her estate’s administrator. The property and money were divided into seven shares and distributed to heirs and attorneys.

Both Sarah’s will and the Crawford family book state that Sarah was mentally alert and in possession of all of her faculties until the end of her life.

At age 95 Sarah appeared before a justice of the peace to apply for a pension for John’s military service. No one knows why John never received a pension. Considering more than 60 years had passed since John’s service, Sarah gave detailed information on where he served, where he was when he was wounded, and who his commanding officers were.

Sarah’s great-granddaughter, Frank Crawford Vanderbilt, provides the best information on what Sarah looked like and what her life was like as a widow.

“She possessed a very fair complexion, was small of stature, but very healthy and active, rising before daybreak to superintend her household affairs, and continuing her activity to an extreme old age.

She was made a cripple for several years before her death, having injured her hip by a fall, but she was carried about the house in her arm-chair, and rode out almost every day in her rockaway. Notwithstanding her misfortune, she lived to the great age of 104 years, outliving her husband many years, wonderfully retaining her mental faculties and still managing her affairs.”

Sarah Fagan died May 24, 1851 in Bulloch County, Ga., leaving behind many descendants who were around to know her and thousands more since.

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