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Mary Sapp Richards Born in Georgia

I tend to wait until I have as many facts as I can gather before posting family information about a particular family line. But I find that I’m getting farther and farther behind. I want to put my family genealogy out there for distant cousins and those who might be interested in the migration to and settlement of my family’s home state of Texas. It is an interesting storyline but if I wait until I have all the bits and pieces I might never get it out there!

So if I post entries out of sequence, forgive me. I will try to piece things together for you all in good time.

Family legend says that my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth “Polly” Sapp, married the older Charles Harrison Richards, to escape her “wicked step-mother.” I am fully aware of the family frictions that can produce stories that are handed down to children that may not be entirely true. But there was a step-mother. And there was a very young bride. As a family researcher, I like to be aware of all of the family legends in order to make up my own mind about whether or not that skeleton in the closet is really there!

From a family tree researched by Kathy (Probably Katherine Ann Sapp) on Family the Sapp line to my ancestor runs as follows:

Ancestors of Mary Sapp (6)

1) John Sapp, born 1640 in Allegany Co., Maryland or England

2) John Sapp, born 1672 in Allegany Co., Maryland and died in Maryland

3) Henry Sapp, born 1698 in Kent Co., Delaware and died May 2, 1743. He married Alice Moore.

4) Benjamin Sapp first appeared in North Carolina when he entered 200 acres on the waters of Muddy Creek in Surry County (now Stokes) on April 2, 1779 and 100 acres also on the waters of Muddy Creek on January 27, 1785 through the Land Grant Office at the North Carolina Department of State. On the 1782 tax list of Surry County, Benjamin Sapp was listed with 2 horses and mules, cattle, 300 acres of land on Muddy Creek.

5) John Sapp, born about 1764 in Maryland.

6) Mary Elizabeth Polly Sapp, born July 30, 1797 in Atlanta, Georgia and died 1879 in Buena Vista, Shelby County, Texas. She married Charles Harrison Richards in Rhea County, Tennessee. He was born February 29, 1780 in Blount Springs, Alabama and died 1839 in San Augustine, Texas.

The Sapp line gets a little hard to understand past Mary and her parents and her father’s 2nd and 3rd wives. I will share what I have found in the different family trees online and from conversations with other distant cousins. But I must emphasize that you need to research this family and come to your own best conclusions, as I have no documentation on the family Sapp. I do know that Mary Sapp and Charles Richards are my ancestors because of family records matching the information from others.

I have been in communication with a Richards descendant who is from the area of Shelby County where our line of Richards settled. She remembers conversations with her great-grandmother who had first hand information and knowledge of the family.

Our John Sapp, Mary’s father, was a watchmaker and silversmith in Augusta, Georgia before he moved to Rhea County, Tennessee where he operated a grist mill. John advertized in the Augusta Chronicles in the 1790s. The area where the grist mill was located is now in the middle of a lake. John may have married two Elizabeths – a King and a Sanders.

Some say that John left one Elizabeth to run off with her sister-in-law, the other Elizabeth. Another theory has it that John Sapp, father of our John Sapp, married one Elizabeth, while our John, the son, married the Elizabeth, sister-in-law of his father’s wife. At any rate, our John’s Elizabeth died and our John married Winnifred Anderson who was remembered by her step-children as a wicked stepmother. Family lore has it that our Mary Sapp, age 13, married the older Charles Harrison Richards to escape Winnie.

Mary’s siblings are listed as:

  • Thomas Sapp, born August 1803, died between 1860-1870, Stokes County, North Carolina*
  • Benajah Joan Sapp, born 1801, died 1887, Shelby County, Texas
  • Stratford Henry Sapp, born January 1, 1802, Cooke County, Texas, died August 4, 1865
  • John Sapp, III
  • Hilliard Sapp, born 1811 in Tennessee, died about 1854
  • Benjamin Harrison Sapp, born May 9, 1813, Rhea County, Tennessee, died December 17, 1863, Mobile, Alabama
  • Alexander Sapp*
  • Serena Sapp*

John Sapp was gone from Rhea County, Tennessee by 1810. Some of his children went to Alabama. Perhaps John and Winnie did, too? But John and Winnie are in the 1850 census of Shelby County, Texas. Did they go back to Alabama or Georgia? Did some of the Sapp children go with the Richards families to Texas to take part in the adventure of taming a new land? Whatever the answer, my 3rd great-grandparents, Mary and Charles Richards, made their way with family members to the eastern border of what is now Texas. I will pick up their story in the next post.

CORRECTION: On June 13, a descendant of Stratford H. Sapp (brother of my Mary Elizabeth Polly Sapp Richards) wrote the following:

You have his [Stratford H. Sapp] death date wrong. He died in Marysville, Cooke County, TX and is buried there in the Marysville cemetery, along with his wife, Elizabeth HAIRGROVE Sapp. His death date is March 12, 1884. I do not believe Thomas is a sibling, nor Serena or Alexander.*

*My original files do indeed have his death date listed as March 12, 1884, and show only 6 siblings:
Mary Elizabeth "Polly" Sapp
Benajah (Benager) Johann Sapp
Stratford Henry Sapp
John Sapp
Hilliard Sapp
Benjamin Harrison Sapp

I appreciate all comments and corrections.


Picture of Mary Sapp Richards sent to me by Richards descendant in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Connie Johnston
Melinda Tillma
Sharon Wilson
Carol Carwile Head, a fellow Genea Blogger, and I have discovered a family connection in the Sapp family and the Gailey family.


Janice Tracy said…
Judy, this was a wonderfully written family story, spanning several states and many years. And you are right, family legends, as I call them, are sometimes just that. Now I can barely wait to read "the rest of the story."
Judy I believe I may be the missing link to Charles Richards line in East Texas, San Augustine and Crockett. I was raised by Strat Richards. So enjoyed finally knowing where he came from.
Hello, Mary! So glad to meet you. I was hoping my research and subsequent posting would reach some of my distant "cousins" who might find even a tidbit of new information. I am glad you emailed me and I will write you ASAP.
Debbie said…
Judy--Small world. I live in FW too. I descend from Stratford H. Sapp. You have his death date wrong. He died in Marysville, Cooke County, TX and is buried there in the Marysville cemetery, along with his wife, Elizabeth HAIRGROVE Sapp. His death date is March 12, 1884. I do not believe Thomas is a sibling, nor Serena or Alexander.

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