Israel Standifer, A Vintage Vignette

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Israel Standifer
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
August 13, 2010

The world is getting smaller as I learn of more pioneer families of this area. Last year I wrote a Vintage Vignette about Edward Frost, using information provided in large part by Don Frost of Athens. That account followed another Vintage Vignette about Isaac Inman, a son-in-law of Edward and namesake of the Inman Cemetery on Redstone Arsenal, located north of Martin Road, between Zierdt and Anderson Roads.

Don Frost is a descendant of Edward Frost, who was buried in Walker County, Alabama. Don lived from 1934 to 1943 in Appleton, Arkansas, on land adjoining the Rankin–Kinslow Cemetery, which was overgrown then, just as it was in the 1980s when I first visited the graves of several of my Rankin and Lemley ancestors buried there. Don recalled seeing my ancestors' box crypts in the cemetery, and he had read the Pope County Arkansas history book stories about the Rankin line because he is connected to my Rankin families of that area via his Poe ancestry. Furthermore, Don's dentist is Dr. Coffman of Athens, whose relatives lived just south of the Rankin-Kinslow Cemetery when I last visited it in the 1990s. In fact, Coffman Grocery was my landmark to find the dirt trail through the fields and forests to the cemetery from the paved road into Appleton.

A few weeks ago, I was called by a Gadsden resident whom I have never met. After coming to Huntsville to do research, W. A. Lewis had been referred to me by library staff. He asked for my help in finding the burial place of one of his ancestors in this area. The subject of his quest was Israel Standifer, a Revolutionary War patriot. Various records indicate that Israel was an officer and also a spy against the Tories, as well as providing services in wagon freighting. When I first heard the name, I thought that Standifer would have not lived in the western part of Madison County because I had never particularly noticed the name. However, as I listened to Mr. Lewis, I began to realize that the Standifers indeed must have lived in the Madison area. Therefore, I began to look into the records.

Israel Standifer was born in Virginia in 1740. He died in Madison County in 1822, after making out his will in 1820. He left 53 acres of land where he lived to his second wife, Phebe Frost (1771-1838), who was likely a sister of Edward Frost (1770-1845). Other property, including a copper mine along the Blackwater River in Franklin County, Virginia, was left to his fifteen children. His will was witnessed by Edward Frost and John W. Looney, both known to have lived by 1818 in the area near Gate 7 of Redstone Arsenal. Madison County marriage records also show that in 1826 John Standifer, a grandson of Israel, married Sophia Inman, indicating another connection of these families. From Don Frost's account, it is known that Edward Frost lived just south of Lady Ann Lake along Zierdt Road. Edward's son-in-law Isaac Inman lived directly eastward, across Zierdt Road. However, Israel Standifer purchased land several miles eastward in 1809. His land was where Cecil Ashburn Drive and Ledges Drive are located today. He could be buried on that land. However, later records show that Israel's widow, Phebe, lived on a 53-acre tract of land west of Redstone Arsenal's Gate 7. That parcel was included in 320 acres purchased jointly in 1818 with Israel's brother, Abraham. Phebe's sons owned that tract and other land in the 1830s-1850s around the locations of Jamar Cemetery and Arnett Cemetery. Richard Jamar, who lived immediately west of Phebe's land, was a witness to her 1834 last will and testament, probated in 1838. This evidence strongly suggests that both Israel and Phebe Standifer moved onto their western holdings before Israel wrote his October 1820 will at age 80. From these indications, it appears that Israel is buried in the Jamar Cemetery or very nearby. The Jamar Cemetery is the most likely location due to its rise in elevation, which would have provided the preferred home and burial sites in the area. Additionally, I have now learned of more pioneer connections to my own lineages.

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