Hartley Lanham was born about 1779, most likely near what is now Weirton, West Virginia. He was one of the seventeen children of Thomas Lanham and Patience Sappington, who probably married about 1757. Thomas Lanham was from Prince George’s County, Maryland. Hartley spent his early years in Weirton and near Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky, where he followed his father’s occupation of farming.

Hartley arrived in the St. Louis area before 1805. Hartley’s adventure westward was driven by his association with John Sappington Jr., who arrived a year or so earlier from Kentucky. Hartley married Harriet Cordell about 1808. Harriett was the daughter of John Cordell and Judith Blackwell. The Cordells had arrived in the Missouri Territory when the territory was part of Spain and then France. John Cordell obtained many acres of land in what is now St. Louis County, via Spanish land grants.

Hartley Lanham and wife Harriett had the following children: Sally, Hiram, Frances, and Missouri. Like many of the early pioneers, agriculture was the primary livelihood of the Lanhams. It is uncertain of the size of Hartley’s farm, but it expanded in October 1818 when he inherited land upon the death of his father-in-law, John Cordell.

Hartley apparently was able to do some reading and writing, for he expanded his agricultural occupation into being a part time justice of the peace in the Bonhomme Township and then into St. Ferdinand Township. Stephen Lanham, a brother to Hartley, shared in land purchases in 1817. Hartley increased his land holdings again in 1819, when he purchased more land from his brother Stephen on the waters of Creve Coeur Lake in western St. Louis County.

Harriett’s death prior to 1822 necessitated a second marriage for Hartley. On 12 June 1823, Hartley married Mary “Polly” Maddox, sometimes spelled Mattox. Mary’s late husband was William Mattox. Mary brought her children, Sara, Martha, and Samuel Mattox, into the Lanham family. This new marriage brought forth three additional Lanham children: Wilson, Hartley, and Ellen.

Hartley Lanham Sr. not only had a large family of his own, he assumed guardianship and was the administrator for the children of his deceased brother, John Lanham, in 1824. The children remained under Hartley’s guardianship until his death in May 1834 in St. Ferdinand Township. He was survived by his second wife Mary.

(Sources for the above essay include U.S. census, marriage data, books and diaries of the time, land records, and death records.)

Written by Clifford W. Lanham

December 2021

© 2022, St. Louis Genealogical Society


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Last Modified: 30-Mar-2022 12:17