Margaret Camerer Nance

Nance family history researchers believe that our ancestor Margaret Camerer was born about 1815 in either Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania or Clermont County, Ohio. Records indicate that her family moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio around the time of her birth, so it is difficult to determine the exact place. She was the second child of Lewis and Catherine Camerer. The surname is found spelled several ways – Kemmerer, Kammerer. Cammarrar, and Camerer (the most common spelling).

During the early 1800’s, the heavily wooded wilderness of Pennsylvania became home for numerous immigrant settlers and the German Kammerer family was among them. As one area became more “crowded,” people moved on west to Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. We see this pattern in the migration of Margaret Camerer’s family.

Early in 1815 Lewis moved his family to Clermont County, Ohio. Land records give evidence that Lewis purchased 142-¾ acres of land on June 10. As it turned out the Camerer family put down roots in this area and stayed for approximately fifteen years. Their family grew by leaps and bounds during that time. When the 1830 United States Federal Census was taken, they had ten children under the age of 20 years old.

Life in this Ohio rugged country was hard and fraught with dangers. All of us have read true accounts of how difficult it was for settlers trying to build a new life while fighting the harsh elements of nature, wild animals, and Indians. In the Camerer family of ten children I think it was a given that the oldest began to help in the house and on the farm very early on. More than likely Margaret and her older sister Mary Ann had to assume many household responsibilities at very young ages. Certainly all the children grew up very quickly.

On September 30, 1830, Margaret’s father, Lewis Camerer, sold his Clermont County land. In mid October 1830, he purchased land in Brouilletts Creek Township, Edgar County, Illinois, and moved his family to the area. Margaret would have been about 15 years old. A young man by the name of Edward H. Nance lived in the county and in the early 1830’s, he and Margaret met. They married October 31, 1834.

Marriage record for Edward H. Nance and Margaret Camerer
Marriage record for Edward H. Nance and Margaret Camerer

After their marriage, they continued living in Edgar County for about five or six more years. During that time Edward and Margaret started a family. A daughter, Catherine, was born in 1836. They also had a son but there is no information giving his name or birth date.

Edward Nance is found on the 1840 United States Federal Census in Clinton County, Missouri. At this time, the census recorded only the head of household and his family consisted of a male and a female, ages 20 to 30; and a male and a female both under the age of 5. The census also records one person employed in agriculture. While living in Clinton County, Edward and Margaret’s family continued to grow. A son, Lewis C., was born in 1841, and a daughter, Margaret A., was born in 1843.

Sometime before 1846 the Nance family moved back to Edgar County, Illinois. The 1850 United States Federal Census lists Edward and Margaret and their four children. A fourth child, Edward Y. Nance, was born November 4, 1846, in Illinois. Other children listed are Catherine, Lewis, and Margaret A. Note that the son born between 1834 and 1840 is not included on this census. We do not know what happened to this son. Jim Kuhlman does mention some information that might be a possible clue.

Also listed living in District Nineteen of Edgar County, Illinois in 1850 was Hugh Nance. He was eighteen years old, born in Owen County, Indiana and was working as a farm laborer for Robert Faris, an eighty-five year old farmer. Owen County, less than fifty miles east of Edgar County, also was a coal mining area. Could Hugh have been the son listed in the 1840 Census of Clinton County, Missouri? (Kuhlman, 9)

Margaret’s father, Lewis Camerer, died on November 26, 1855, and was buried at the Mt. Carmel Cemeter, also known as Carmel-Light Cemetery, in Edgar County, Illinois. Margaret inherited a 1/9 share of the estate and subsequently sold the property to her brother, Daniel Camerer, as did five of her seven sisters. The deed was executed on February 11, 1858, and a justice of peace noted that both Edward and Margaret Nance personally appeared and were delivered the deed. (Wood, 4)

The Nance family lived in Edgar County, Illinois, until after 1855 because information in later census records shows that two more daughters were born there. A daughter, Clara, was born in 1853, and another daughter, Dovey Viola, was born in 1855.


At some point between the birth of Viola in 1855 and the July 5, 1860 Lavaca County Census, the Edward Nance family pulled up stakes in Illinois and moved to Lavaca County, Texas. Lavaca County lies some sixty miles southeast of Austin and (is) approximately eighty miles west of Houston, Texas.

As the crow flies, the distance between Edgar County, Illinois and Lavaca County, Texas is approximately 900 miles. That’s quite a challenge to undertake with a large family and all of ones belongings. Travel most likely was by covered wagon and oxen. If they made two miles an hour they were really doing well. A hundred miles in a week was a good goal. One can only wonder why a family would move that great a distance and endure the hardships one would entail along the way. One possibility was that land was very cheap and easy to obtain in those days. (Kuhlman, 9)

Note: In light of the fact that Edward and Margaret personally appeared and were delivered the deed of sale of her inherited property on February 11, 1848, they must have moved after that time. Patte Wood commented in a private email communication that she wondered if perhaps the money from the sale of the property helped finance the Nance family move to Texas. That certainly seems likely to me.

There is an interesting occurrence that lends to more questions than answers about the Edward Nance family. Their oldest daughter Catherine M. Nance died on December 28, 1858, in Collin County, Texas. Catherine was owed $68.25 by Joseph Setter in Edgar County, Illinois. Margaret Camerer Nance’s brother, Daniel Camerer, was named administrator of Catherine’s estate on May 3, 1859. The heirs, all who were believed to be residing in Texas according to Daniel Camerer, were named as: Father: E.H. Nance. Brothers and sisters: Margaret A. Scaggs, Edward Y. Nance, Clara E. Nance, Dovey V. Nance, and Lewis C. Nance. (Wood, 4-5)

This makes me wonder why Catherine was located in a different place than her parents. Were there relatives in Collin County?

By the time of the 1860 United States Federal Census the Nance family is in Lavaca County, Texas. Edward and Margaret Nance are listed along with their five children. The names, ages, occupation, and birth places are as follows.

Edward Nance, age 50, farmer, birth place Virginia.

Margaret Nance, age 45, housewife, birth place Ohio.

Margaret Nance, age 17, spinster, birth place Missouri.

Lewis, age 16, farm laborer, birth place Missouri.

Edward, age 13, birth place Illinois.

Clara, age 7, birth place Illinois.

Viola, age 5, birth place Illinois.

As we know, the United States was engaged in the Civil War between 1861 and 1865. Even though Margaret’s husband Edward would have been too old to enlist, there are records indicating that their sons, Lewis C. and Edward Y., were enlisted. This was a tumultuous time in the United States. Along with all people in Texas, life for the Nance family must have been affected on many levels.

Other than census records there is little information during the next years that sheds light on Margaret’s life. Her husband Edward is not found on any more census records. However, Patte Wood found that he registered to vote in Dallas County on September 23, 1867. She also found him on 1868 tax rolls in that same county. These two bits of information about Edward indicate that sometime after 1860 he left Lavaca County and moved to Dallas County without his family. It certainly makes me ask the questions – “Why did he leave?” and “Why did Margaret stay in Lavaca County?” Did they have relatives in that area? Was there a financial reason?

When the 1870 United States Federal Census was taken, Margaret was living with her daughter and son-in-law, Thomas and Margaret Scaggs. Margaret’s children, Edward Nance and Dovey Nance, are also listed in this household.

By the time of the 1880 census, Margaret was living with her son Edward and his wife, Mary Jane. After this census, the only records found about Margaret were located by Patte Wood in the Waco Directories at the Waco City Library, Waco, Texas. Margaret was found in the residence of Joseph and Dovey Willings (son-in-law and daughter) in the following years: 1888-1889; 1890-1891; 1898-1899; 1900-1901 and 1902-1903. It is curious that she was not found living in the Willings household in the 1900 United States Federal Census. (Wood, 8-9)

Patte Wood gives this additional information about her research on Margaret Nance.

Joseph Willings was an Assistant Sexton at the Greenwood Cemetery, located directly across the road from his residence on Earle. He and his wife, Dovey Viola Nance Willings, are buried at this cemetery.

Margaret Nance was not located in the Greenwood Cemetery Association’s records. According to the Waco City Secretary’s Office, record keeping of the association was “sketchy” when the City Secretary assumed recording responsibility. Neither is Margaret listed in the Index to Early McLennan County Deaths, compiled by John M. Usry, copy in the Waco, Texas McLennan County Public Library.

There is an unknown Nance buried in the China Springs Cemetery. On 17 August 2007 I contacted the China Springs Cemetery Association. Early records recorded only the purchaser of the plot which is about 24 feet X 30 feet. There is no record of a Nance or Willings buying a plot. The association stressed that this did not preclude a Nance or Willings being buried in the cemetery. (Wood, 9)

Margaret Camerer Nance’s final years along with her date of death and burial are a mystery to us. It seems that her husband moved away leaving her in the care of her children. Considering that during some of those years the country was in the midst of war and two of her sons were enlisted in the Confederate Armay, it must have been a very difficult time for her. Undoubtedly, her family needed her help and strength as their lives were impacted by the circumstances.

I envision Margaret being a woman of strength and endurance who “played the cards as they were dealt.” At least in her last years she was surrounded by those who meant the most to her and was able to be an integral part of their lives. As she had cared for them in their early years, they in turn took care of her.

Sources 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. 1870 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.

Clermont County, Ohio,

Edgar County, Illinois, Office of Circuit Clerk, Estate Packet for Catherine Nance.

Heritage Quest Online, 1880 United States Federal Census [database online].

Illinois Regional Archives Depository System (IRAD), 600 Lincoln Ave., Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois, marriage record.

Kimmel, M. Jay, compiler, “Descendants of Johann Ludwig Kemmerer,” February 16, 2006.

Kuhlman, Jim W., The History of the Nance Hereford Ranch, 1996.

Wood, Patte Patterson, “Descendants of Edward H. Nance,” 2007,

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011.

Margaret Camerer Nance Pedigree Chart (click link) margaret-camerer-nance-pedigree-chart-scan0001