Who is Isaac Washburn McAfee's father?

A recent email from Lynnell Edwards reminded me of a mystery I've been trying to crack for several years. In the 1850 census for Mercer Co., Kentucky, in the household of James McAfee Forsythe, appears Isaac McAfee, age 10, born in Missouri. Since the 1850 census did not identify relationships to head-of-household, it is not clear how Isaac is related to the other members of the household. Lynnell and her son are trying to establish Isaac's ancestry.

There is a reference to Isaac Washburn McAfee in A History of Anderson County, Begun in 1884 by Major Lewis W. McKee, Concluded in 1936 by Mrs. Lydia K. Bond [reprinted in Baltimore by Regional Publishing Company, 1975. Originally published in Frankfort, Kentucky 1937]. On p. 201 is the following:

"The name of McAfee has been synonomous with this part of the country ever since the early explorers of the name, crossed Kentucky river seven miles above Frankfort and passed a little east of the present sit eof Lawrenceburg, and camped at Lillard's (McCalls) spring in Anderson County. A lineal descendant of one of these McAfee brothers was Isaac Washburn McAfee, who married Sallie Miller, and lived in the Alton neighborhood, where for many years he was a successful and much loved teacher of the county. His only child, Allen Berryman McAfee, who married Bettie McBrayer, is one of Lawrenceburg's most esteemed citizens. For thirty-one years he has been director of the Lawrenceburg National Bank and for six years Chairman of the Board of that institution. Mr. McAfee was born October 13, 1870. He and his wife have three sons and three daughters and reside on a fine farm three miles from Lawrenceburg where he has been a breeder of prize winning Southdown sheep and Shetland ponies for many years."

Isaac Washburn McAfee was born on 15 Mar 1838 (according to his gravestone). According to his marriage record, he was born in Marion Co., Missouri. He was educated at Centre College, Danville, KY (1863) and Miami University, Oxford, OH. On 29 Dec 1869, he married Sarah "Sallie" Miller at Rough and Ready, Anderson Co., KY. They had one son, Allen Berryman McAfee. Isaac died 14 Oct 1890, and interestingly, has two grave markers. One is in New Providence Presbyterian Cemetery Mercer Co., KY, and the other is in Lawrenceburg Cemetery, Anderson Co., KY (his wife Sallie is also buried in Lawrenceburg Cemetery).

The big question, then, is from which of the McAfee brothers is Isaac lineally descended? Since Isaac is such an uncommon name among the Mercer Co. McAfees, I considered the possibility that he was a son of Isaac McAfee and Mary Davis. This Isaac was a son of Thomas Clarke McAfee, and died in 1848 (location unknown). I have no information on Mary Davis. Since he was born in 1812, he would have certainly been old enough to have fathered Isaac W. McAfee. However, I have found no evidence to support this hypothesis (the 1840 census was head-of-household only, and I have not found a will for Isaac McAfee or Mary Davis that would provide names of children).

Another possibility as father of Isaac W. is William McAfee, son of John M. McAfee and Elizabeth McKamey. From Neander Woods' history, we have that William was born in 1810 and died in 184?. Neander Woods named one child of William, Allen. Since Isaac W. and Sallie (Miller) McAfee also had a son named Allen, it is conceivable that Isaac W. named his son for his brother. However, I have found no trace of William or his family, other than an entry in the 1840 Marion Co., MO census. William was listed as head of houshold, with 1 male child under 5 yrs, 1 female child age 5-10, 1 male age 20-30 and one female age 20-30. Again, I have no evidence to connect Isaac W. to this William.

I welcome any comments or suggestions by anyone who may be able to shed light on this mystery.

Written by Jenny Tenlen