Where Have All the Bachelors Gone?

As I research the descendants of my ancestors, I sometimes come across uncles who never married. The reasons they didn’t marry are sometimes clear and sometimes not, but one thing I have noticed, especially for those who lived in the 19th century, there is very little to be found about them.

As I thought about the reasons this might be, it occurred to me that there is less to find about them because they didn’t marry. There are no marriage records or birth records for their children. As generations pass, the living have less of a biological connection to the uncle and memories are lost.

Sometimes stories are passed down by a sibling or other family, but this seems to be more the exception than the rule.

Here I will give three examples.

James and Robert Bones


James and Robert were two of James and Mary (Adams) Bones’ nine children. They are my 6th great-uncles. They were born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1797 and 1803, respectively. The family immigrated to South Carolina in 1810 and were naturalized as United States citizens when their father was naturalized in 1817 (because they were under 21).

Summerville Cemetery

The Bones family plot in Summerville Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia.

James, at some point, moved to Richmond County, Georgia, where several of his brothers also lived. His will is probated in the same county. He died at the age of 34 on 3 July 1831.

It’s unknown exactly where Robert lived. There is someone of the same age living in the household of his father, James, in the 1820 and 1830 censuses, but without names, it cannot be known if it was Robert. He died at the age of 30 on 26 January 1833.

For James and Robert, the only records I have found of their lives are their headstones, a probate record for James, and a Bones family history written more than 100 years later.

Oswell Eve

Oswell was the 8th of Oswell and Aphra Ann (Pritchard) Eve’s 15 children. He was born 16 January 1795, in Richmond County, Georgia. He was my 5th great-uncle. His younger sister Emmaline recorded the following in her memoirs:

Another son, called Oswell, was born the following year and upon him was lavished all the devotion possible from his parents and six sisters. When fourteen years of age he was sent to Europe to be educated with sister [Sarah (Eve)] Adams and her husband [John Strong Adams]. During his absence of four years[,] Father built his new house called “Frog Hall” in which was a room prepared expressly for his son, a horse was trained for him, a negro boy taught all the duties of a body servant and everything was in waiting for our brother….

[Sarah (Eve) and John Strong Adams] visited Ireland a second time and there Mr. Adams died. Sister and brother Oswell then started for their home but when they reached Liverpool, brother was taken suddenly ill and died the day before they had appointed to sail.

Oswell died 12 July 1812 at the age of 17. His death and burial are recorded in the parish records in Liverpool, England. He is listed as a merchant in both records.