Elizabeth Lair

Elizabeth Letts tombstone

Elizabeth Lair was born September 3, 1785 in Rockingham county, Virginia, the daughter of Joseph and Persis Lair. She married Samuel Dunavan December 22, 1807 in Rockingham county, Virginia. They had three sons, William Lair, Joseph Albert, and George Milton. Samuel died June 22, 1816 in Licking county, Ohio and she was left with 3 small boys, aged 8, 4, and 1. The following year she married David Letts, February 27, 1817 in Licking county, Ohio. In 1830 David removed his family to the new country in Illinois, joining another group of Licking county people in La Salle county.

Her son Noah Harris Letts gave this description of his mother when, in 1900, he wrote an account of his family’s history:

“My mother at the period of time I am writing about [about 1829] was a very robust woman weighing about 150 pounds, dark hair, blue eyes and fair complexion, and I can safely say a very handsome woman and was of a very kind disposition, beloved by all that personally knew her, and was a loving mother, and idolized her children, and in return they dearly loved her. She could govern us children by kindness and never used the rod, but it was somewhat different with our father. He would use the beech limb on us, if we displeased him, but I presume not without a cause, as we were rather wild”1

“This fall [1835] on the third day of September our mother died after a short spell of sickness with the bilious fever. We were left a lonely set of children, who had lost a kind and loving mother and we felt the loss, for our mother was beloved by her children and all who knew her. She was a woman in the prime of life and had always been a very healthy, robust woman until this last spell of sickness. On the day she died she was just fifty years old. She was buried in a new graveyard on the bank of Fox River about three-fourths of a mile north of Dayton, opposite the mill dam, and I think was the first person that was buried there, and since it has been the burying ground of Dayton and quite a distance around. The graveyard is kept up very nicely but I have not had the satisfaction of visiting my mother’s grave for a number of years. But she is not lost to my memory or ever will be while I am alive.”2


  1. Paul M. Angle, editor, “PIONEERS / Narratives of Noah Harris Letts and Thomas Allen Banning / 1825-1865” (Chicago: The Lakeside Press,1972), 22-23.
  2. Ibid., 59-60.

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