In Search of Teracy Cannam’s Family

This is an attempt to identify the parents of Teracy Cannam (c1799-1886), wife of Moses Stewart.

Spelling of her maiden name

Her maiden name appears several times in the War of 1812 pension files.  Her husband’s 1873 pension application gave her maiden name as Canam and her sister’s 1879 declaration spells her name Cannam.  Her own declaration in 1878 spelled it Cannam in one document and Cannan in another.  I note, though, that neither Teracy Stewart nor her husband or her sister could sign their own names, so in each instance the clerk or attorney wrote the name as they heard it pronounced — rendering it with a trailing “m” sound in nearly all cases.

However, the nearest — indeed only — similar name in Indiana County or the surrounding counties of Pennsylvania is Cannon, which was sometimes rendered in local records as Canan or Cannan but not with a trailing “m” sound.

I might also point out that two neighbors filed an affidavit in support of Teracy’s widow’s application for pension, spelling her given name as Theresa, which suggests that Teracy was a  knickname.

Cannams/Cannons in Indiana County, Pennsylvania

There is no doubt that Teracy Cannam, wife of Moses Stewart,  was from Indiana County, Pennsylvania.  Teracy (Theresa) Stewart first testified in her widow’s pension application that she married Moses Stewart in Indiana County on her father’s farm on 12 February 1818, and later changed the year to 1815 in order to make the cutoff date for a widow’s pension.  She explained that she relied on faulty information in claiming a marriage in 1818, but remembered later that the correct year was 1815.  Her sister Lavina Stewart, the widow of Moses’ brother Andrew Stewart, testified on Teracy’s behalf that she and Teracy were both married in Indiana County on the same day, 12 February 1815 .  The discrepancy was likely a result of the fact that, under the pension act of 1871,  the eligibility of widows for a pension required a marriage prior to the end of the war on 17 February 1815.  Lavina Stewart had apparently used the 1815 date in her own widow’s pension application.

According to the ages in their declarations, Teracy was born in 1799 or 1800 and Lavina was born about a year later. Teracy declared that she was 15 when she married and that she had turned 77 sometime in early 1877. Lavina declared that she was 78 years old in an affidavit dated 15 March 1879.

Daughters of James & Ann Cannon?

The 1810 census listed only two persons in Indiana County with a similar name:  Hugh Cannon and Ann Cannon.  Hugh Cannon had no female children in  his household in 1810, thus was not the girls’ father.1 Indeed, by the 1820 census, by which time Teracy and Lavina were both married, it appears that two of the younger females had left the household. 2 By 1830 Ann Cannon was living in adjacent Armstrong County as a single head of household.

Ann Cannon was the widow of James Cannon.  Among the sparse early records of Indiana County is a Orphan’s Court docket item dated 10 June 1811 wherein Ann “Cannan”, administratrix, and William Smith, administrator, of James “Canan” deceased, late of Washington township, filed a final accounting of the estate.  After expenses, the remaining personal estate of $195.82 was available to be distributed to the heirs who were, unfortunately, not named.3

Ann Cannon was the daughter of William Smith, who left a will dated 29 August 1822 and proved 25 October 1822 that left $5 to his daughter Ann and a cow to “my granddaughter Ann Carrick Cannon”.4

Family Tree Confusion

A few ancestry.com family trees, all of which appear to have been sourced from the same world family tree submission, mention the daughter Ann Carrick Cannon, all of them calling her “Ann Karen Cannon” (1803-1899), who married William D. Fairman and lived in Indiana County.   Only about half of these trees mention the other two daughters, giving them the names Mary and Elizabeth but providing no other information.  I could not find a tree that offered any sort of evidence for the names of the other two daughters.

Who was James Cannon?

The 1798 tax list showed James Cannon owning a 271-acre farm in Derry township, Westmoreland County, located near the farm of Andrew Stewart. 5 Both James Cannon and Hugh Cannon (and two other Cannons) were enumerated in Derry township of Westmoreland County in 1800, prior to the formation of Indiana County.6

Luckily, Hugh Cannon’s family has been identified in detail and, while it included a son named James Cannon, Hugh Cannon’s son James was a different person.7

For what it is worth, I note that Teracy Stewart named her first two children Mary and Ann.

  1. 1810 census: Hugh Cannon, Washington township, 42010-00010.)  Ann Cannon, however, headed a household of four females and no males.  She had two females under ten and one aged 10-16, two of whom were probably Teracy and Lavina.  ((1810 census: Ann Cannon, Center township, 0-21010. []
  2. 1820 census: Ann Cannon, Centre township, 0-10110. []
  3. Indiana County Orphans Court Dockets 1807-1846, page 25. []
  4. Indiana County Will Book 1, page 102.  The will left his real estate to his sons William and James, subject to the lifetime estate of his wife Ann, and left $5 each to four daughters named Ann, Mary, Martha, and Elizabeth.  The daughters’ surnames were not mentioned. []
  5. Both appear on the same page of the land tax list, implying that their farms were near one another. []
  6. !800 census, Derry township, Westmoreland County:  James Cannon 00100-00100: John Cannon 10010-20010; James Cannon 00010-10100; Hugh Cannon 01101-00101 []
  7. Joshua Thompson Stewart. Indiana County, Pennsylvania; her people, past and present, embracing a history of the county, Volume 1 (J. H. Beers & Company, 1913), pages 708-9. []