Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West

Scads of questionable or at least unsupported information appears on the Internet regarding Permelia Emaline (Fancher) West, widow of John Laffoon West. John died 7 Jun 1869 near Leasburg, Crawford County, Missouri. He moved there sometime around 1866 or 1867, having previously lived in Miller County, Missouri (spending some time in Illinois in between, but that’s a long story). John is buried in Lea Cemetery in Leasburg.

His wife Permelia then appears as a widow in the 1870 and 1880 censuses at Leasburg. Sometime after the 1880 census, she moved to McLennan County, Texas.

A McLennan County, Texas deed also recorded in Crawford County, Missouri, and dated 22 Nov 1886, refers to Permelia as a “fem sole” (or feme sole, literally a “woman alone”) of McLennan County, Texas. The family story was that after John’s death, she moved to Texas with her daughter Livonia Givens West and son-in-law, Livonia’s husband Charles Wesley Griffith, who is also named in the deed.

Permelia was selling property she still owned in Crawford County, Missouri to her son-in-law C.W. Griffith. According to the deed, Permelia, her daughter Livonia, and her son-in-law Charles Griffith were all three living in McLennan County at the time.

Various individuals have posted 5 Dec 1886 Aquilla, Hill County, Texas as the time and place of Permelia’s death. Although this may be accurate, I have never seen any documentation to support this. Aquilla has popped up in family stories through others, but one could have lived in McLennan County while still living close to Aquilla in Hill County.

One thing about Aquilla is that, yes, it is in Hill County, but just barely across the county line from McLennan County.  Somewhere packed away I have tape recorded interviews with my grandmother, who told stories about the family living near the Brazos River. Seems like she might have said they lived about 16 miles away, but that’s just a number that popped into my head, and it might not be the figure she cited. I believe she said they would ride by horseback into Waco to get the mail.

An interesting web page appears in Find A Grave that claims the oft-cited 5 Dec 1886 death date, while also claiming that Permelia died at Waco. No support or documentation is provided. The page also says that she married John “Peg Leg” West.

This “Peg Leg” reference is a strange claim that has circulated by mail and later across the Internet for at least a couple decades. In the area of Leasburg, Crawford County, Missouri, there were two men named John West. One was John Laffoon West, husband of Permelia Emaline Fancher. The other was a certain John West from England, totally unrelated, who was known as “Peg” (not “Peg Leg”) because of his wooden leg.

Somehow, someone got hold of the wrong end of the stick and decided that the nickname was “Peg Leg” rather than “Peg,” and that the nickname should be applied to John Laffoon West. “Peg” lived from 1830 to 1904, according to his obituary. John Laffoon West, on the other hand, lived from about 1811, according to census records, to 1869. His death date is on his tombstone.

The Find A Grave page places Permelia’s burial as having been in Grand Prairie Memorial Gardens in Grand Prairie, Dallas County, Texas. No photo of a tombstone is provided. No lot number is given, and no data is included to indicate why the submitter would think that this is the case.

In fact, Grand Prairie Memorial Gardens wasn’t even founded until 2004. Was she buried on the site in 1886 in anticipation of the cemetery’s eventual founding?

Various other pages make claims as to the parentage of Permelia, usually in rather emphatic and dogmatic terms. No one seems willing to turn loose of their beliefs on this issue, yet no one seems to have any actual documentation, only evidence, and even that’s sometimes very weak.

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