Thursday, August 4, 2016

David and Rebecca Scyster of Smithland

According to his tombstone in Smithland Cemetery, David Scyster was born 15 November 1783 in Maryland.  He married Rebecca Evans in Washington County, Maryland on the 23rd of November 1809.[1] About 1817-1818, David and Rebecca Scyster lived in Virginia as the birth place for their daughter, Ellen, is listed as Virginia consistently on the 1850-1880 census records.

The Scyster family moved to Livingston County before 1819 when David Scyster first appears on the tax lists. The first time he is shown with children is 1829, when he is listed with three children.

David Scyster kept a tavern in Smithland as evidenced by the following entry in the county court minutes: "On motion of David Scyster and it appearing he is a man of good character and will probably keep an orderly house, ordered that license be granted him to keep a tavern at his own house in this county for one year."[2]

In 1835, a curious entry appeared in the court minutes. "Peter Jones was appointed guardian to Ellen Sister [sic], infant heir of David Sister dec'd (at least supposed to be dead from circumstances detailed to the court) Whereupon Jones authorized Wm. Smith,  his security, executed & acknowledged bond payable & conditioned according to law in penalty of $100."[3] David Scyster's daughter, Ellen, married William Smith 7 May 1835 in Smithland. David Scyster (or any variation of that name) does not appear on the Livingston County tax lists 1838-1841. On the surface, it appears that Peter Jones was appointed guardian of Ellen in order to give permission for her marriage to William Smith. A search through county and circuit court records did not reveal any details of the "supposed death" of David Scyster/Sister. 

David and Rebecca Scyster  had at least four children, including the following:
1.  John E. Scyster - born 29 April 1815 and died 22 May 1827.[4]
2.  Ellen Scyster - born ca 1817/1818 Virginia; died after 1880.[5] Married William Smith 7 May 1835 Livingston County.[6]
3.  Jacob V. Scyster - born 2 August 1823 Livingston County; died 6 October 1920 McAlister, Pittsburg County, Oklahoma.[7]
4.  William G. Scyster - born June 1825 Kentucky; died after 1900.[8]

David Scyster appears on the 1830 and 1840 Livingston County census records, however the number of people and their ages do not match those of his children. There are no females listed. If this is true, Rebecca, his wife, was deceased before 1830 and his daughter, Ellen, was living elsewhere. His tombstones shows he died in 1841. Unfortunately, the Rebecca's death date is not shown on her tombstone.

 David Syster
A native of Maryland
Nov. 15, 1783
April 14, 1841

Wife of 
David Syster
Sept. 10, 1791

Buried Smithland Cemetery. Tombstones photographed 8 October 2014.

[1] Maryland Marriages 1667-1900, online database,, accessed 16 June 2016.
[2] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book G:422, Monday, 3 May 1830.
[3] Livingston County, Kentucky Court Order Book H:268, Monday, 4 May 1835.
[4] Livingston County, Kentucky Homemaker Clubs. Livingston County, Kentucky Cemeteries 1738-1976, (n.p.), 1977:335.
[5] Last appears on the 1880  Claiborne County, Mississippi census, age 63, born Virginia.
[6] Joyce M. Woodyard. Livingston County, Kentucky Marriage Records Vol. 1 (Oct 1799-July 1839), (n.p.), 1992:136.
[7] Find A Grave Memorial #13840110, online database of graves, accessed 15 June 2016.
[8] Last appears on the 1900 Livingston County census as age 74, widowed, a dry goods salesman.

Published 4 August 2016, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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