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Martha Jane Singleton was born on September 22, 1835, probably in Russell County, Virginia. Her parents were Joshua Singleton (born around 1812 in Virginia) and Elizabeth McPeak (born April 24, 1815, probably in Russell County, Virginia) [1]. On March 27, 1853, at the age of 18, she married Antoine Dominique Canivet, with whom she had four children [2].

Not much is known concretely about Martha's parents. Arthur Kent Hall attempted to find information concerning Joshua's parents, yet found little documentary evidence existed, probably due to many courthouses that burned in Virginia. He did note that one Singleton family in Virginia could possibly be ancestors of Joshua's. James Singleton who appeared in the 1830 Russell County, Virginia census may have been Joshua's father. This same Singleton was later found in the 1840 Hardin County, Tennessee census. It is known that Joshua and his siblings lived in Tennessee for a time. Elizabeth McPeak's family is just as elusive. Arthur Hall speculates that a James McPeak may have been Elizabeth's father, based upon the 1830 US Census of Russell County, Virginia [1]. Hopefully, by placing this information on the Internet, I may locate other researchers who are looking for information on these individuals and will be able to trace back even further.

The 1850 census of Belleview Township in Washington County, Missouri, lists Elizabeth Singleton as being born in Virginia. Joshua had already passed away by this time in 1850 of influenza in Washington County at the age of 38. The children of Joshua and Elizabeth were also listed as follows: 1) Henry, age 17, born in Virginia; 2) Martha, age 15, born in Virginia; 3) Sarah, age 14, born in Virginia; 4) Susannah, age 12, born in Virginia; 5) Joshua, age 11, born in Tennessee; 6) Elizabeth, age 9, born in Missouri; 7) John, age 6, born in Missouri; 8) Mary, age 4, born in Missouri; and 9) Drusilla, age 1, born in Missouri [3]. It should be noted that the census was inaccurate regarding Elizabeth's age; she should have been 45 years of age.

Martha married Antoine on March 27, 1853 in Washington County, Missouri by the Justice of the Peace (Thomas Brock). She and Antoine may have lived in Washington County for some time, and it appears they lived there long enough to see the formation of Iron County (Iron County was formed in 1857 from several counties, including Washington) [4]. Land documents that showed the sale of the land that Antoine purchased indicated that he was a resident of Iron County, Missouri [5]. Perhaps Antoine made his way as a potter, as family oral history indicates, and he may have worked in the mines as well. In 1858, Antoine was the owner of 160 acres of land situated in the northwest corner of Shannon County, and he had moved his family there. The 1860 census taken in Shannon County in Moore Twp, lists Antoine "Kinnevat" as a farmer, 38 years old and born in France, Martha as Mistress of the House, 26 years old, born in Virginia, and James, 8, born in Missouri [6].

Allen Jones recounted to Arthur Hall that there were two springs on the land, with one being near the house and the other in a pasture. Martha decided that the water in the spring in the pasture, which was some distance from the house, tasted better and thus she made a low wall from some of the rocks on the land (which are quite abundant) so that she could retrieve water with a bucket. As such, life on the land was probably not real easy. Most of the land was not able to be plowed, but the family is said to have raised sheep and to have grown cotton.

Family history has also noted that "battles" were fought on the Canivet land, although Arthur Hall's research disputes this. However, skirmishes could have occurred, and one strong story indicates that one of the children took a bayonet from a fallen soldier after one of the skirmishes. It is also believed that Martha help nurse soldiers from both sides who wandered onto the land seeking help. Soldiers from both sides often stopped at the house to ask for supplies. Martha was aware that soldiers would take whatever they wanted from the local populace. Once, two soldiers arrived and requested coffee. Martha kept only enough coffee in the house for one pot, and the rest she kept in a jar in a mudhole in the yard. Martha gave what coffee she had in the house, and as the men were leaving, one of them kick the jug in the mudhole and stated, "I wish that jug was full of whisky" [1]. They did not ever know that it was, in fact, filled with the coffee that they were foraging.

In 1866, Antoine decided to move Martha and the family to Illinois near her mother. Many families fled Shannon County during this time period, and Allen Jones believed the Canivet family left because Carpetbaggers were stealing everything from everyone. There is also the possibility that outlaws contributed to fear among the families of Shannon, such as Quantrill's Raiders. The decision to leave was made with Antoine's life in danger, presumably. In fact, they left so quickly that it is stated in family history that Martha left a set of dishes that Antoine made in a storm cellar or a cave on the land. Oral history also indicates that Antoine hid in a wagon by day with Antoinette riding on Martha's lap as she drove the wagon. Antoine and Martha expected to return to Shannon County one day once things returned to normal, but two years later Antoine passed away after a long illness. After the probate of Antoine's estate, she was permitted to retain household and kitchen furniture among many other items.

After Antoine's passing, Martha was left to raise her four children in Fulton County. On July 22, 1871, she married Jonas Scalf [7] , who became someone notorious for being a "ladies man" and married often in his life. According to some sources, Jonas Scalf was "rough" to Martha and Tandy, her youngest child. She eventually divorced Scalf and later married Dan Harris who would precede her in death. Martha died November 17, 1906 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The following is her obituary as it was published in 1906 (note that there are many errors in it):

"Mrs. Martha Harris, Nearly Eighty, Dies on Anderson Place, After Long Illness. Mrs. Martha Harris died at 8:30 o'clock Saturday morning, at her home, 570 Anderson Place. Death was due to lung trouble, and following several years of ill health. Martha Singleton was born in Tennessee, about 79 years ago, and was there married, when about 20 years of age to Anthony Canevit. The family came to Fulton county in 1865, settling near Lewistown, where Mr. Canevit died about 36 years ago. By this marriage there were four children, two sons and two daughters, all of whom are living. They are James Canevit, residing in McDonough County, and Tandy Canevit, Mrs. Rachel Pollitt and Mrs. Nellie Pollitt, all of Liverpool township. There are 24 grandchildren. The marriage of Mrs. Canevit to Daniel Harris, her second husband, took place in Liverpool township about 25 years ago. Nine years later they moved to Canton, where Mr. Harris' death occurred in February, 1904. Other near relatives surviving are one brother and one sister John Singleton whose home is in Kansas and who was with her sister at the time of her death, and Mrs. Truzella Winchell, who resides in Oklahoma...internment will be in Mount Pleasant cemetery, Liverpool township." [8]

Children of Antoine and Martha:


James Edgar Canavit - Click here to view James' web page for information about he and his family


Rachael Canaevit - Click here to view Rachael's web page for information about she and her family


Antoinette "Netty" Canaevit - (Born May 28, 1864, Shannon County, Missouri; married Alexander Pollitt; died December 25, 1945)


Tandy Nathaniel Canaevit - Click here to view Tandy's web page for information about he and his family

Children of Joshua Singleton and Elizabeth McPeak [1]


Henry Singleton - Born about 1833, probably in Russell County, Virginia. He married Mary Elizabeth Crawford on October 7, 1851. Henry worked as a blacksmith in Liverpool Twp, Fulton County, Illinois and fathered at least three sons (Semuel H. Singleton, John Thomas Singleton, and Lewis Singleton). Henry was reputed to have left for Nevada during the gold rush of 1874.


Martha Jane Singleton - See above


Sarah A. Singleton - Born about 1836, probably in Russell County, Virginia. Possibly married George Bush from Reynolds County, Missouri.


Susannah "Susan" Singleton - Born about 1838, probably in Russell County, Virginia. She married a man with the last name of Bell in Fulton County, Illinois. Family stories indicate that she went with her husband when he enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War and both never returned. It is rumored that Bell enlisted with a "clean-shaven" man, and thus it is inferred that Susan may have disguised herself as a man to serve in the Army with her husband. They had two children before they disappeared: John Bell and Mary Sarah Bell (who married John Pollitt).


Joshua Crockett "Crock" Singleton - Born about 1839, probably in Hardin County, Tennessee. He married Alma Wilcoxen on December 19, 1861 in Fulton County, Illinois and they had no children. It is believed that he and his brother, John, enlisted in the Union Army and Crock served in Company B, 85th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry and died in the battle of Peachtree Creek in Georgia. Rumors abounded that he was taken as a prisoner of war and his widow fought to get her widow's pension for many years. It is believed that she eventually received her pension.


Elizabeth O. Singleton - Born about 1841, probably in Washington County, Missouri. She married William L. Harper on June 25, 1865, and they had two or more sons. William Harper also was reputed to have headed to Nevada in 1874 with his father and Henry Singleton, but later returned sans gold.


John F. M. "Jack" Singleton - Born November 17, 1844 in Pilot Knob, (then Washington County, now Iron County) Missouri. He married Rachel Stutes on October 4, 1877 in Bryant, Illinois. He was a Civil War veteran who served with his brother Crock in Company B, 85th Regiment as a private. Oral history indicates that he and Crock were prisoners of war, but Army records do not indicate as such. John was wounded in the Battle of Peachtree Creek in Georgia, where his brother was killed (it is reported that John killed the southern soldier who killed Crock with a fence post, and then buried Crock with the fence post). After the war, he received a pension and retired to Lewistown, Illinois. He walked with a limp after the war and had to ask for an increase in pension due to his disability, being wounded in the same battle that his brother was killed in. He died February 14, 1916 at Canton, Fulton County, Illinois, and Rachel died June 22, 1905 in Burlington, Kansas. They had seven children: 1) Hester Druzilla Singleton, born September 9, 1878; 2) John R. Singleton, born February 2, 1880; 3) William M. Singleton, born January 5, 1882; 4) Lula Catherine Singleton, born July 14, 1884; 5) Viola Mae Singleton, born September 5, 1887; 6) James Henry Singleton, born April 7, 1889; and 7) Charles Edward Singleton, born April 27, 1893.


Mary A. Singleton - Born about 1846 in Washington County, Missouri. She married James Evans on February 1, 1870 in Fulton County, Illinois and later married William Rose. Mary and James had a son, William, and four daughters.


Drusilla "Siller" Singleton - Born about 1849 in Washington County, Missouri. She married George Winchell on November 4, 1866 in Fulton County, Illinois. It is said that she and her husband went to Oregon with a large wagon train from Fulton County and then on to Northern California. They had two sons and a daughter

Note: All references to The Gin Ridge Clans are copyrighted by Arthur K. Hall. Any reprint or publication or use otherwise is prohibited without written consent of the author.

Picture of Martha Singleton Canivet (seated) and possibly Elizabeth McPeak Singleton (standing) courtesy of Arthur Kent Hall from The Gin Ridge Clans.

Sources Cited

[1]    Hall, Arthur K (1998). The Gin Ridge Clans. Decorah, IA: Anundsen Publishing Co.

[2]    Marriage License, 1853, Circuit Court Recorder, Potosi, Washington County, Missouri

[3]    US Census, Washington County, Missouri, dated 1850

[4]    Iron County, Missouri, Webpage at Rootsweb,

[5]    National Archive Record, Cash Entry Certificate Number 33917, Land Title Deed, Jackson County, Missouri, listed Antoine D. Canivet as owner of land, September 2, 1858.

[6]     US Census, Shannon County, Missouri, dated 1860

[7]    Fulton County Clerk of Courts, signed by O. L. Lillie, Justice of the Peace, dated July 22, 1871.

[8]    Canton Register newspaper, Canton Illinois, Saturday, November 17, 1906, as cited in The Gin Ridge Clans.

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