Devericks of Shaws Fork, Virginia Genealogy Continued
John A. Devericks, son of Thomas Devericks Junior and grandson of Thomas Devericks Senior of Shaws Fork
John A. Devericks was born on December 31, 1820 on his father’s plantation on Shaws Fork, Virginia. At the time this was part of Pendleton County, but since has been included to Highland County. He was the first child and eldest son of Thomas Devericks Junior and Jane Wilson, and probably was named after Thomas’ older brother, John.
His father had married late in life, and John’s birth appears to have happened within months of this marriage. His father’s health deteriorated rapidly, and he died shortly after John’s 5th birthday.
After his Father’s death, his mother, Jane Wilson, assumed executorship of his estate and guardianship of their children. John and his brother, Thomas, both received part of his lands, but their mother had control until they came of age and was entrusted with their education. His mother gave birth to a daughter, Louisa, posthumously in 1826. Over the next four years the family resided on their lands, and were listed there on the Census of 1830.
Everything changed, though, when in 1830 John’s mother, Jane Wilson Devericks, gave birth to a son, Hudson, whose paternity is unknown. His mother was taken to court by his uncle, John Devericks Senior, and lost her executorship and guardianship to him. The boys were probably sent to live with an aunt, Frances Devericks, and her husband William H. Dodds. Their opinion of these changes is not known, but what is clear is that John would support his mother for the rest of her life. Over the next 5 years some plan was developed, and about 1837 when he was 16 years old, John A. Devericks left Shaws Fork for the West. He probably traveled up the Staunton Turnpike, which ran by his home and went to the Ohio River where he could easily catch a boat to carry him down to the Mississippi River. He ended up in Palmyra in Marion County, Missouri which was just opening up to settlement.
The Historical Society of Marion County, Missouri lists John as an early settler, and indicates he had arrived in the state in 1838. He liked Palmyra, and probably at this time first came in contact with his future father-in-law, Samuel Morton. Samuel was a prominent merchant, and landowner. Strong of opinion, Samuel valued most those who had a keen business sense, and he evidently favored the young man.
John Devericks did not remain in Palmyra, though, but returned to Shaws Fork to settle his father’s estate. Hudson and Louisa were still living with their mother as they were not subject to the Will provisions of Thomas Devericks Junior, and no effort was made to claim them by John’s uncle, John Devericks. On the 1840 U.S. Census, two young men of the right ages are listed with William H. Dodds, and I believe that they are Thomas Devericks III and his brother John A. Devericks (now returned from Palmyra).
In 1844 Thomas Devericks III reached his 21st birthday and came into possession of his inheritance. No longer subject to the guardianship of their uncle, John Devericks, John A. and Thomas III jointly sold all their property in Virginia. On March 20, 1845 Thomas Devericks III married Martha Garner in Albemarle County, Virginia. Within a few months John A. Devericks had left Shaws Fork forever, and with him went his brother (Thomas III), mother (Jane Wilson), and half-brother (Hudson). His sister, Louisa, alone remained in Virginia and married Mahlon Armstrong in October of 1849.
John returned to Palmyra with his mother and half-brother. His brother, Thomas III, went to live in St. Louis, but eventually returned to Virginia (not Shaws Fork).
John purchased property in Palmyra near Samuel Morton’s on Church Street, and on Tuesday December 22, 1846 married Samuel’s 15 year-old daughter, Agatha Landri Morton. He established himself as a prosperous merchant and tailor (which was also the occupation of both his brothers). By 1860 his assets peaked at $10,000 in real estate, $10,000 personal assets, and 7 slaves. IRS returns showed him to be prosperous and owning an expensive watch and carriage.
John and Agatha had their first child within a year of their marriage, but the child died a few weeks later. A daughter, Irene, would follow in 1849, but died within 6 months. It would not be until 1855 before their next child, Corrina, was born. She was followed by John Aytchmond in 1859, and finally twin boys in 1861. Only one twin, Merritt Morton would survive.
Palmyra had long been on the front line of the abolitionist struggle with well-publicized incidents of Northerners trying to agitate in the area. John’s father-in-law, Samuel Morton, was in the thick of the fray and clearly pro-south. As the Civil War broke out, life in Palmyra became strained. John clearly had southern sympathies as a slave-owner, and he was certainly connected to the outspoken Samuel, but never took up arms against the Union. The Union occupied the pro-south Marion County early in the war and he probably was required to post a bond in 1862 for good behavior like Samuel, but the amount is not known. He was among the citizens of Palmyra called together in June of 1862 to swear a loyalty oath or face imprisonment.
As the War years dragged on the economy of Marion County faltered. John’s father in law passed away on July 14, 1864, and in his Will expressed his confidence in the financial abilities of his son-in-law, John. John’s wife, Agatha, inherited one lot of ground in the City of Palmyra, 66 feet front on Main Street, at the Northwest corner of Block sixty seven, running back east the same width, one hundred and twenty seven feet on Church Street. She also inherited one lot of ground lying in the City of Palmyra in Block sixty seven (67), sixty nine (69) feet fronting Church Street extending that width one hundred and thirty two (132) feet south up to the property of John A. Devericks. Finally she received a three year old roan mare.
On July 17, 1868 Susanna (Fisher) Morton followed her husband in death. John’s wife, Agatha, inherited a share of her goods, money, notes and effects of every kind and description. The money as was the case in Samuel’s Will was to be loaned out, and the annual interest be given to each of her daughters (heirs) unless the executor should think it best to invest in real estate with the consent of the said children. The executor again was John A. Devericks and this control would lead to a lawsuit by the other heirs to wrest control from him. In February of 1869 for instance Merritt Briscoe and his wife Alzada Morton Briscoe(sister of John’s wife) squared off against Henry and Julia Chiles (neice of John’s wife by her sister Julie Ann Morton) in the Marion County Courts with John in the middle.
By 1870 his personal assets had dropped, but he was still a very wealthy man for the times with real estate worth about $8000, and personal assets of $2600. He now was running a livery stable. In the ‘Panic of 1873,‘ though, the economy took a dramatic turn for the worse, and for the next 6 years the country was in a depression. While his finances were melting away, the family was struck in 1876 with the tragic death of his eldest son, John Aytchmond Devericks. Below is an excerpt from the local newspaper describing one of the last moments of father and son.
A few moments before he passed away, he looked up into the face of those standing by his bedside, and said, "Oh, how I wish I could go now, I am so happy." And one by one, he called the family and kissed them goodbye, and as his father came, he took his hand, and imprinting the last farewell kiss, said, "Oh, father, I am so happy to think I am going to Heaven to see Jesus." And when he had taken leave of all, he clapped his hand together, and said, "Glory, glory." Then turning to his sister, who was kneeling by his bed, he placed his arms gently around her neck, and quietly and peacefully fell asleep in Jesus.
Within a year of this tragedy, John moved to Sedalia, Missouri to try to reverse his fortunes by opening a Hotel. They had some activity in Sedalia through at least 1883, but ultimately it must have failed. His mother, Jane Wilson, died about this time as well. The family split their time between Sedalia and Palmyra, and in 1878 his daughter, Corrina, married Eli Lewman in Marion County, Missouri. John and his wife would live with the Lewman’s for the rest of his life even after the death of his daughter.
By the 1880 Census, John was working as a tailor and his daughter, Corrina, was taking in laundry in Palmyra. His remaining son Merritt was not living with them, and may have been paving a way for their eventual movement to California. It was also during this time that the family chose to change the spelling of the last name to Devereaux, and this also occurred with John’s brother, Thomas III, and his half-brother, Hudson. The reason behind this is unknown, but may have been a last gesture for their mother and her struggles against their uncle, John Devericks.
In January of 1884 tragedy struck yet again when John suffered the death of his daughter, Corrina. Within a year, John A. Devereaux with his wife Agatha, Eli Lewman with his daughter Minnie, and Merritt Craig Briscoe (brother-in-law) and his family had all moved to California. In 1887 his son, Merritt Morton Devereaux, married Hattie Vance probably in Oakland, California. . In 1888, Merritt Devereaux, Eli Lewman, and G.E. Vance were owners of the Valley Steam Laundry in Stockton, California, and John lived nearby. The Briscoe family had settled a little further south in Fresno, California.
The Laundry does not appear to have succeeded as by the next year his son, Merritt, and son-in-law, Eli Lewman, were back in Oakland. John and his wife probably returned with them as we know he was reported to be living with his son-in-law at the Hotel Crellin in 1895, and Eli Lewman started that job in 1893. The family made a move back to Stockton around 1899, and re-established the laundry as the National Towel and Laundry Company which this time was a success. John A. Devereaux probably had to make this move as well because Eli Lewman was no longer managing the Hotel. On the 1900 Census Eli was listed as a laundryman suggesting he also participated in the revival of the laundry. John Devereaux lived at 1145 East Market Street, Stockton which was next door to the Davis Meat Market. This suggests that he knew Eddie Davis who would eventually adopt his grandson as a foster son when his father, Merritt Devereaux, died in 1906.
John A. Devereaux died on March 15, 1899 in Stockton, California at age 78 years, 3 months, and 16 days from ‘apoplexy‘ which is a sudden stroke. He was buried 2 days later in the Rural Cemetery in Stockton. His funeral was held at his residence at 1145 East Market Street on Friday, March 17, 1899 at 2:30 in the afternoon.