The Farmer Family of Maryland &
Seaton of Virginia

including descent from
James Murry, Ralph Hughes,
James Dishman and Richard Sanford
of Virginia

The Farmers of Maryland & Seatons of Virginia

Sarah Jane Farmer Ellis was born February 10, 1805 in Hampshire County, Virginia to John Farmer and Frances "Frankey" Seaton Farmer who were married in Hampshire County January 26, 1804.  John Farmer appears to be a descendant of the Baltimore & Harford County, Maryland  FARMER family, but his precise lineage has not been determined.

The leading hypothesis is that his father Gregory Farmer (husband of Jane) was the son of Peter Farmer and Mary Wood. Peter Farmer died in 1745, when his son Gregory was only two years old and Mary Wood Farmer remarried to William Hawkins. They relocated to northwestern Virginia, in the area where John Farmer later married Frances Seaton. Other Farmer males who had sons named Gregory seem to have stayed in the Baltimore area, making this "guess" seem viable.

Frankey Seaton  was the daughter of John Seaton (b. January 12, 1745 in St. Paul's Parish, Stafford County Virginia to James Seaton and Frances Dishman and died 1787 in Fauquier County, Virginia) and Alice "Ally" Murry (b. October 13, 1744 in Virginia to James Murry & Lydia Hughes and d. before November 11, 1830 in Hampshire County, Virginia).  John Seaton and Ally Murry were married December 21, 1768 in Fauquier County. 

A Gutsy Lady
Sarah Jane Farmer Ellis (Febrary 10, 1805 - April 8. 1873)

Sarah Jane Farmer married David Ellis of Hampshire County, Virginia. He was from a Welsh Quaker family, originally from Wales, that settled in the Pennsylvania colony in an area near Philadelphia known as the "Welsh Tract."  David had been married before; his first wife Nancy Hedrick died after bringing a total of six children into the world. Perhaps David needed help with the children. At any rate, he married Sarah on October 2, 1828. She was 23; he was 46.

Together, Sarah and David produced nine known children to the family grouping: Susan Frances Ellis; Samuel George Ellis; Alice Catherine Ellis; Ellis Ebenezer Ellis; Townsend Thomas Ellis; Hiram Lee Ellis; Sarah Caroline Ellis; and Henry Clay Ellis.  The older children were born in Hampshire County, but some of the younger children -- including my 3rd great-grandmother  Sarah Caroline -- were born in Allegany County, Maryland. The family moved from the Maryland mountains to Iowa in the later 1840's. It's clear that David had little hesitation about uprooting his family -- first a short move from Virginia over the border to a neighboring county in Maryland, later a long move to Iowa -- for what might offer better opportunities for himself and his children.

How Sarah felt about having to leave behind family and friends is unclear, but she apparently had a bit of spunk and a taste for adventure. She is a woman who fascinates me because of her story.

After David's death at age 70 in Mahaska County, Iowa, Sarah Jane Farmer Ellis was named guardian of the minor children, but was also left a widow at age 47. Within a couple of years, this widow decided to hitch up the oxen to her wagon, gather up her unmarried and married children, their spouses and children, and join a wagon train traveling along the Oregon Trail to Oregon and Washington. The wagon train leader was an Iowa neighbor, John Knox Kennedy, and thus the wagon train is referred to as the Kennedy Wagon Train. A recent book has been published on the journey and it can be ordered at Unlike most wagon trains, the Kennedy train achieved a certain notariety because it took justice into its own hands and executed men who were alleged to have committed a murder (that occurred before the Kennedy wagon train arrived at the gravesite). After a posse from the Kennedy group rode ahead and caught up to the men, the wagon train's leader convened a court, there was a summary trial, and the men were executed. At the time, the process for dealing with such crimes along the Oregon Trail would ordinarily have been to take the alleged criminals into custody and transport them to the nearest cavalry outpost.