Sarah Bedell Lapsley Percival

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The will of of Abner Bedell, named several previously unknown family members. In his will, Abner Bedell specifically named his son Daniel Bedell and Daniel Bedell's three daughters by his unnamed first wife.

Sarah Bedell born circa 1810

Sarah Lapsley is named as a beneficiary in the will and a codicil of the will of Abner Bedell. In these documents, Abner Bedell names Sarah Lapsley as his granddaughter and specifies that Sarah is the daughter of his son Daniel Bedell.

A description of the will and the full document can be found at Will of Abner Bedell Proved Circa 1842.

The first known record mentioning Sarah Bedell Lapsley is the will of her grandfather Abner Bedell which was proved circa 1842. The given name of Sarah Bedell's husband is not mentioned in Abner Bedell's will. However, Lapsley is one of the surnames of the founding families of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and the surrounding area as detailed in the historical volume about Thomas Lapsley.

Extract from Abner Bedell's Will naming grand-daughters, including Sarah Lapsley

Abner Bedell added a codicil to his will which also named Sarah Lapsley as his granddaughter. The codicil cuts son William Bedell out of the will and gives half of the legacy originally intended for son William Bedell to granddaughters Mary Bedell and Sarah Lapsley

Extract from Codicil of Abner Bedell's Will

Sarah Bedell next appears in the records in the 1850 US Census. There is a thirty nine year old Sarah Lapsley living in West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania with a ten year old child named Mary Lapsley. It is probable that Sarah Lapsley is a widow as she and the child Mary are the only members of the household. An estimated year of birth for Sarah Bedell based on the 1850 US Census would be circa 1811.

Sarah Lapsley is briefly mentioned in the historical volume "Thomas Lapsley, a 1772 Settler in Southwestern Pennsylvania" page 141. A Sarah Lapsley is referenced as widow on a 1852 deed for property in West Elizabeth. Erastus Percival is recorded as the seller of the property.

Erastus Percival

Sarah Bedell Lapsley and Erastus Percival were likely married around the time she purchased property from him in August 1852 as their son Charles Percival was born nine months later on 7 May 1853.

The Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 database contains the death certificate of Charles Percival which includes his date of birth and states his parentage as Erastus Percival and Sarah Bedell. According to the death record, Charles Percival was born 7 May 1853 in Allegheny County Pennsylvania and died in West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania in 1919.

Erastus Percival's will and codicil to his will were written in 1854 and 1855 respectively. The entire document can be viewed at Pennsylvania Probate Records 1683-1994, Allegheny Wills 1855-1860 Volume 8 number 219.

The section of Erastus Percival's 1854 will that relates to Sarah Lapsley, refers to her as Sarah Lapsley, not Sarah Percival or his wife. Sarah is left a substantial legacy in the will as is her daughter Mary Lapsley. Additionally Erastus Percival refers to Charles Percival as "a male infant, I call my son Charles". The language used in the will allows for the possibility that Sarah Bedell and Erastus Percival were not yet married at the time the will was written.

Erastus Percival added a codicil to his will in May 1855. The purpose of the codicil was to disinherit his daughter Roxey Leany Percival. The fact that Roxey Leany was married a couple of weeks before this codicil was written likely has some bearing on the changes to the will.

Roxey's legacy was one thousand dollars in the original will and the codicil states that he 'bequeaths the sum of five dollars only to said Roxey Leany and that the residue of the said legacy, one thousand dollars, be given and bequeathed to my sons John Orin and Charles to share equally". In the May 1855 codicil, Erastus Percival references son Charles on an equal basis with his son John.

Erastus Percival committed suicide on 27 May 1856. The Daily Pittsburgh Gazette reported the details in the 28 May 1856 edition on page 4.

Sarah Bedell, widowed for the second time, is living with daughter Mary Lapsley and son Charles Percival as recorded in the 1860 US Census. Sarah is enumerated as Sarah Percival in the census and her daughter Mary Lapsley is enumerated as Mary Ralph. Mary Lapsley has married John Ralph and the young couple are living with Sarah Percival and her six year old son Charles Percival. 

Sarah Percival and her son Charles are still living in West Elizabeth in 1870. The household is just the two of them in the 1870 US Census.

Sarah Percival is living alone in 1880. She is still in West Elizabeth, according to the 1880 US Census, and the enumerator recorded that Sarah's father was born in New Jersey and her mother was born in Delaware. Daniel Bedell is documented as being born in New Jersey in several records, but the information that Sarah's mother was born in Delaware is new information. 

Charles Percival , the great grandson of Abner Bedell, stayed in West Elizabeth his entire life. There is a brief biography of Charles in the historical volume entailed "History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, page 585

The Charles Percival biography states that Sarah Bedell's parents were from New Jersey and that his mother (Sarah Bedell) was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. We have several documents noting the place of birth for Daniel Bedell as New Jersey which is consistent with the Charles Percival biography. The only other known reference to Sarah Bedell's mother, which was likely reported by Sarah Bedell herself to the 1880 US Census enumerator, is that she was reportedly born in Delaware. All known records for Sarah Bedell state only that she was born in Pennsylvania. It is possible that Sarah Bedell was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Her grandfather Abner Bedell originally settled there and eventually moved to Allegheny County circa 1822.

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