When I started out, all I had was their names, which I got from the death certificate of their son, William Aaron Radcliff (b 1846 in Bath County, VA per record). After doing a little digging in the West Virginia Vital Research Records site, I turned up birth records for two other children, James Wesley Radcliff (b 1857 in Gilmer County per record) and Sarah E Radcliff (b 1854 in Gilmer County per record). Sarah's death certificate was also available under her married name Sprouse and listed only her mother's name.
A little more digging turned up Rebecca's death record as well under the name Rebecca Rattliff. She passed in 1897 in Gilmer County and her age is given as 73 which would put her birth at around 1824. Her father is listed as A Schoolcraft, which gives me another avenue to check. Interestingly, her husband is listed as James G Rattliff. Since I haven't found any other marriages for her, I'm assuming the middle initial was an error.
Armed with the names of some of their children, I moved to census records. I started with the 1860 census, figuring that all three of the children I had found were minors and probably living with their parents at that point. Unfortunately, I didn't have much luck finding the family.
I had a little more luck with the 1850 census. The family was in Jackson County, Virginia at that point. The household is made up of Jas W Ratliff (29, b in VA), Rebecca Ratliff (23, b in VA), John E Ratliff (4, b in VA) and Wm Ratliff (2, b in VA). The age for William is a little off from his death certificate, but since it's closer to the event, I'm inclined to think it's probably more accurate.
|1850 US Census, population schedule, District 27, Jackson County, Virginia, Household of Jas W Ratliff, Page 215B; Citing NARA Microfilm Publication M432, Roll 953|
There are actually two death records for him. The first is a death register which gives his middle initial as F and his birth as 1 Mar 1846 in Virginia. The space for parents is blank. The second is a death certificate. His middle initial is given as T. The date and place of birth are the same as the other death record. Parents are listed as unknown. So aside from his placement in the 1850 household which doesn't list relationships, I can't be positive he's a child of James and Rebecca. I needed more records.
Since I haven't been able to find the family in the 1860 census, I skipped ahead to the 1870 census in Gilmer County. The surname was given as Ratliff again. Rebecca is now head of the household. Also in the household were Aaron W (22, VA), Abraham (19, VA), Sarah E (15, VA), James W (12, VA), Barbara E (9, VA), Mary E (6, WV) and Granville A Ratliff (1, WV). Since James William Radcliff isn't with the household, I suspect he has passed at this point, probably around the time of Granville's birth.
|1870 US Census, Population Schedule, Glenville, Gilmer County, West Virginia, Household of Rebecca Ratliff, Page 220B; Citing NARA Microfilm Publication M593, Roll 1686|
Based on Granville's death certificate and entry in the death register, he was born around 1871. As with the other children, I think this is an error since he appeared in the 1870 census with the family. His birthplace is given as Gilmer County. Unfortunately, his parents are listed as unknown. However, this makes sense because his marriage occurred in 1899, two years after the death of his mother and nearly 30 years after when his father probably passed so his wife may have never met them.
The last appearance for Rebecca is in the 1880 census for Gilmer County. It took a while to find it because the surname had been written and transcribed as Rottiff, which wasn't a variation I had came across before. Again she is listed as the head of household. Also in the household is son Wesley (22, VA), daughter Marietta (16, VA) and son Granville A (12, WV). A Peter Smith, no relationship given, is living with the family.
|1880 US Census, Population Schedule, Glenville, Gilmer County, West Virginia, ED 139, Household of Rebecca Rottiff, Page 155D; Citing NARA Microfilm Publication T9, Roll 1502|
Based on the clues gathered from vital and census records, I've formed a tentative family although more evidence is needed to prove it.
Children of James William Radcliff and Rebecca Schoolcraft
John T Radcliff
William Aaron Radcliff
Sarah E Radcliff
James Wesley Radcliff
Barbara E Radcliff
Granville Anderson Radcliff
Judging by the children's estimated birthyears, I suspect there are more children, although they might not have made it to adulthood. There is a 6 year gap between Barbara and Marietta and a 5 year gap between Marietta and Granville. There are 3 year gaps between some of the other children as well.
To be continued...