Sunday, April 27, 2014

G2 Grandparents Catherine Brady (1866-1944)and Joseph Alexander Knowles

Joseph (Pa Joe) Alexander Knowles was born on July 30th, 1860 in Rock Sound, on Eluthera Island, Bahamas. His parents were William H. Knowles (1825-1893) and Bethea Symonette (1823-1863). From this info, we can gather that Joseph's mother died when he was just 2 years old. It appears Joseph was the last child between William and Bethea, but it is possible she died in childbirth along with another child. This is just conjecture. The cause of her death is not known. She would have been 40. (Note: this info is from other researchers. A trip to the archives in the Bahamas is required to find more information.)

Joseph was the last of 7 children. He had three older brothers: William, Henry, and John, and three sisters: Eliza Ann, Letitia, and Martha. No info can be found on Martha after her baptism. It is possible she did not survive. Letitia died at age 19 in the Bahamas.

At age [14], Joseph immigrated to Florida in 1875, according to the 1900 census, to join older brothers William, Henry, and John. [What is odd is that it appears the father William stayed behind in the Bahamas. One researcher states that Joseph was raised by his older brother, Henry. However, it is proven that the grandfather Joseph Knowles immigrated, or was at least visiting, to Key West. He is found in the 1880 census living with William and Joseph and their wives. He is listed as being a farmer.] Each brother owned 130 acres of land on No Name Key under the Homestead Act passed by Congress in 1862. Henry later gave Joseph 60 acres of original land grant on which he farmed sweet potatoes, limes, sapodillas, and burning wood for charcoal. The vegetables, fruit, and charcoal were all sold in Key West and transported by sail boat. Joseph was also an active sponge fisherman and continued to be until his eyesight began to fail later in life (Johnson).

On April 2, 1880, when Joseph was 18, he married 14 year-old Catherine (Ma Catty) Brady.

Also from Rock Sound, Catherine (born February 10th, 1866) was the daughter of Robert Bell Brady and Elizabeth Knowles. It is likely Catherine and Joseph were related on the Knowles side somehow, but I have not been able to prove a link yet. Note Catherine married before her 20 year old sister Sarah and 18 year old brother Robert, Jr., just to give some family context. Marrying this young was not a routine thing for this family.

On June 25th, 1880, Joseph and Catherine are found living with his oldest brother William and his wife Susan. His grandfather Joseph was also there. It is not clear whether he lived with them or was just over from the Bahamas visiting.

The day after the census was taken, Joseph applied for US citizenship by filing his "First Intentions" on June 26, 1880, but did not follow through at the end of the five year waiting period.

In May of 1885, Joseph and Catherine have a child, a son Robert. This son exists during the 1885 census, taken in June, but ultimately does not survive. It is not known at this time how long Robert lived. This census shows that Joseph was a seaman. They lived on William Street.

The 1900 census is an important one for Joseph and Catherine. It shows that they had a total of 9 children, but only 3 were living: Rosie (10), Joseph Leeburg (Dodie) (8), and Kathleen (5). This is incredibly heartbreaking. How sad to lose 6 children in the first twenty years of marriage. This means that Robert, found in the 1885 census wasn't their first. Unfortunately, the other children's names are not known. They are most likely buried in the Key West cemetery along the fence, where most of the infants were buried at that time.

This 1900 census shows them living in a district of Key Matecumbe, which I am guessing is No Name Key near Big Pine. Pa Joe is listed as a sponge fisherman. Dodie and Rosie are in school.

Between 1900 and 1910, Joe and Ma Catty have two more living children, William (b. 1902) and my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Grandma Libby) (b. 1909). According to the 1910 census, they will have another child that does not survive, giving them a total of 12 children, only 5 who lived.

On July 7, 1905, their oldest child, Rosie, married Bahamian-born William Roberts. Rosie was 16 when they married, about the same age Ma Catty was when she married Joseph.

We find them again in 1910. At this time, they are back in Key West, though it is not for sure where. Pa Joe is still sponging. Rosie, her husband William, and their two oldest children, Camille (age 4) and Norwood (age 2) are also living with them. Rosie's husband is also listed as a sponger.

Joseph Alexander "Pa Joe" Knowles

In 1917, at age 57, Joseph filed another Declaration of Intention.

In this document, we learn that Joseph was not a particularly tall man. At 5'8", he was only an inch taller than me, his great-great granddaughter. He had gray hair and brown eyes.

Catherine Brady "Ma Catty" Knowles

According to their granddaughter, Phyllis Matcovich Johnson, Joseph and Catherine continued to reside in No Name until the 60 acre tract was sold to land speculators in the 1920's. The famous real estate bust occured shortly after the land was sold and the down payment was the only money ever recived, (although the land was later repurchased at a tax deed sale in the 1940's).

The 1920's census shows Joseph and Catherine, as well as their children William (age 17) and my Grandma Libby (age 10), living with William and Rosie Roberts and their children Camille, Norwood, Myrell, Joseph, and baby Bert Austin at 1313 Pine Street. William Roberts is listed as being a mate on a steam ship. Joseph and his son William are listed as fishermen.

1927-1928 city directory shows they still lived at 1313 Pine Street.

Catherine "Ma Catty" and Joseph Alexander "Pa Joe" Knowles

Since the 1930's census cannot be found for them, we lose them until 1935. This census shows them living at the house they purchased on 1 Polaski Street. Catherine, having never had to work outside the home (that we know of), is working as a stripper in the cigar factory. Her job would have been to strip the tobacco leaves to be dried for rolling. Joseph is listed as a seaman, but his health would most likely have been failing at that point.

Pa Jo dies just a couple days after Ma Catty's 72nd birthday, on February 12th, 1938 from complications due to cancer and chronic encephalitis. Encephalitis is a disease of the brain which causes seizures. No one really knows a definitive cause; it could be contracted from the herpes virus or the shingles/chicken pox virus. In any case, Pa Joe's last years would have been rather painful and difficult to endure.

Joseph's obit was not legible enough to print from the microfiche, but these are the details:

Joseph A. Knowles, age 73, dies at home Saturday night at 8:45 pm at 1 Polaski St. The funeral was held on Feb. 14th, at 4:30 pm at Ley Memorial Church. He left his wife, children, 19 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren. 

In February of 1940, she submitted her Declaration of Intention. It states she had gray eyes and gray hair, was 5'7" and weighed 120 lbs. The April, 1940 census shows Catherine at age 74 living alone in their house on Polaski Street. She no longer had an occupation.

Senile, she became ill with endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium, which is caused by an infection and usually involves the heart valves, on December 29th, 1943. She was attended by the doctor until January 2nd. Shortly before midnight on January 3rd, 1944, she died. They are buried together in the Key West Cemetery.

Their legacy summarized:

Rosie: Born in 1889, Rosie married Capt. William Uriah Roberts at age 16. They had at least 8 children together: Camille, William Norwood, Myrell, Joseph Archibald, Bert Austin, Benjamin Earl, Jack Albert, and Betty Jean. (Incidentally, Rosie and her younger sister, my great-grandmother Elizabeth, both named daughters Betty Jean, Libby's Betty was born in 1931, Rosie's Betty b. 1936.) Their last child was 31 years younger than their oldest.
Rosie's husband William was captain of a ferry boat. He died in 1938. Rosie died twenty years later. (Rosie would have lost her dad and her husband in the same year.)

Rosie's kids

Rosie and William

Rosie's children with their two aunts: Libby and Teen
Photo courtesy of Joanne Matcovich Bishop

Joseph Leeburg "Dodie":

When Dodie was in his mid-twenties, he married Mary Elizabeth Gibson. Like his father and grandfather, Dodie was a fisherman with Thompson Fish Co. He and Mary had 3 children: Joseph Leesburg, JR., Mary Louise, and Kathryn Camille. At some point after 1945, Dodie, wife and children leave Key West. They are found in the 80's living in Lake County, Florida, NorthWest of Orlando. Dodie dies on August 17, 1985.
Kathryn and Mary Knowles

Kathryn "Kay" Knowles, photo from

Kay's obituary: Kathryn C. Cerney 85, of Mount Plymouth, Fla., died Saturday, July 25, 2009. Kay was born in Key West, Fla., the youngest daughter of Jo seph (Dody) and Mary (Lizzie) Knowles. She worked at the Key West Naval Base during WWII, where she met and married her husband of 64 years, Ralph, who predeceased her this past October, in 2008.

She lovingly fulfilled her role as a "Navy wife" raising the children during numerous ship deployments and following her husband on various tours of duty overseas in France, Canada and the United States. Through the years she was active in various military and local organizations, including Mount Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department and Mount Plymouth Golfers' clubs. In her younger years she enjoyed bowling and playing bridge with friends. In her later years, she discovered a love of golf with Ralph and many friends.

She is survived by two sons, Ralph Jr. and Gary; three grandsons; and two great-grandsons. Visitation will be held from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Friday, July 31, 2009, with services in the funeral home chapel at 10:45 a.m. Internment follows at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Fla. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Red Cross, at 2025 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20006 ( Beyers Funeral Home, Umatilla. Cerney Key West Citizen, The (FL) - July 29, 2009 Page: 3A

Kathleen (Aunt Teen):

Kathleen Knowles Matcovich
Bertie Matcovich, Sr.
Unlike her older sister, Kathleen (Aunt Teen) attended school at least to the 8th grade and did not marry until the age of 20. She married fellow Conch, Ray Bert (Bertie) Matcovich, who was 5 years her elder and worked as a chauffer. They had two children, Ray Bert, Jr., and Phyllis. (When my Grandpa Albert was a boy, his uncle Bert, Sr. would take him fishing. One day, Albert shut his finger in the car door, and though he was in excrutiating pain, he put off telling Bert as long as he could, riding to the boat with his finger still caught in the door, because he thought if he told Bert about it he'd take him home and not let him go fishing. He did eventully tell Bert, who stopped and let him get his finger out the door. He took him fishing that day after all.)

Ray Bert, Jr.
Photo courtesy of Joanne Matcovich Bishop


Phyllis Matcovich Johnson would also come to be a genealogist. In fact, she made quite a few discoveries/gathered and preserved important photos that are crucial for our family history.
Unfortunately, she passed in 2011 before I could meet her.

5 generations: Ma Catty, daughter Teen (missing Teen's son Ray Bert) Ray Bert, Jr., baby Sylvia
Photo courtesy of Joanne Matcovich Bishop
Ray Bert, Jr. married Florence Dillon. They had two girls: Sylvia and Joanne.

Joanne remembers her father saying that Ma Catty would always make Queen of All Pudding. When she would, Pa Joe would let him know, and Ma Catty would fuss at him and tell him not to be telling people what she was making. He said she would make it and hide it! I love this story for many reasons: one, it tells me that she was a baker and probably a good cook, and two, that she had a sense of humor. That is, if she was joking!

For those that don't know, Queen of All Pudding is a traditional conch dessert that's like a bread pudding with guava and topped with a merengue. It's the most delicious thing.

Teen with her first granddaughter Sylvia, granddaughter-in-law Florence, and Ma Catty
Photo courtesy of Joanne Matcovich Bishop


Kathleen left Key West to live near Orlando. She died in March 1984.

William Irwin:

At age 23, William married Marion Naomi Cash. He was a fisherman. Marion was a housekeeper. He finished the 7th grade; Marion finished the 10th grade. Together, they had four children: William Jr., Mary, Jo Ann and Richard. Richard was 20 years younger than his older sister Jo Ann. Richard and my mother were very close, as I was close with his son, Richie, Jr. Being the same age, we grew up together. I don't recall having ever met William.

Mary Elizabeth (Grandma Libby) Knowles married Albert Cruz on July7, 1927. Together, they had three children: Albert (my grandfather), Donald, and Betty. She worked at the property appraiser's office. Her husband Albert was an electrician until he was severely hurt on the job and went on disability. Elizabeth died several years after her husband on May 31, 1980. Much more about Elizabeth and Albert soon. 


What's incredible to me about Ma Catty is her ability to go on in the face of great loss. I cannot imagine how awful it would have been to have lost 7 children, and to have the tenacity to keep trying. Had she given up, refused to have more children, my great grandmother may not have ever been born. This is just one example of the honor and acknowledgement we owe to the generations who came before us, and one of the main reasons why I am both fulfilled and fascinated by this journey of discovery.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

G3 Grandparents Robert Bell Brady and Elizabeth Knowles

Robert Bell Brady was born in Rock Sound, Bahamas on Sept., 2, 1835 to parents John Brady (b.1803-) and Amelia Morton (b.1804-). Not much is known about John and Amelia at this time.

Elizabeth Ann Knowles was born in Rock Sound, Bahamas on February 18th, 1832 to William Knowles and Catherine Elizabeth Wells. Not much is known at this time about William and Catherine either.

Robert and Elizabeth marry in Rock Sound in 1860.

Robert and Elizabeth had 5 children: Sarah Sophia, Robert Jr., Catherine (my G2, nicknamed Ma Catty),. Amelia, and Ann.

On Jan. 1, 1866, Robert arrives in Key West at age 30 with his older brother John, age 40 and father-in-law, William Knowles, age 64. The Brady brothers are listed as seamen. William Knowles is listed as a farmer. They are all three listed in order, so they must have arrived together. This would have been the same time my great-great grandmother Catherine (Ma Caty) was born: February 9, 1866. (According to the 1880 census, she could have been born in 1864, that would make her 16 when she got married as opposed to 14.)

At some point, Robert must go back to the Bahamas, as his family doesn't immigrate to Key West until 1876, ten years later, which is proved in his Declaration of Intention.


By 1870, Robert's older brother John, his wife, and four children were settled in Key West. John was listed as a seaman. Robert and his family would come over 3-6 years later. The information varies. Their last known daughter, Ann M. was born on October 22, 1871.  Ann was not listed in the 1880 census, leading me to believe she did not survive. The 1900 census proves this. It states they had 5 children, but only 3 are living. Sarah died in 1900 at the age of 40. The cause is not known.


Taken on the 2nd of July, 1880, this census states that Robert, Elizabeth, Sarah, Amelia, and Robert Jr. lived on Fleming Street. Robert and Elizabeth's nephew Alonzo Watkins (18) also lived with them as a boarder. Robert 's occupation is Laborer. Elizabeth keeps house. Sarah (20) is at home. Junior (18) is a seaman. Amelia (12) is in school. In this census, it is confirmed that Robert cannot read or write, but Robert Junior can. Catherine, age 14-16, had gotten married to Joseph A. Knowles in the spring. They lived around the corner on Frances Street.


On June 30, 1885, this picture of the family was taken:

Robert and Elizabeth were still living on Fleming Street. Robert is a seaman. Living with them is their daughter Sarah Pent, now a widow, as well as her 3 yo son William. Amelia, age 17, and Robert, Jr. (21 and a seaman) are also living there. Their nephews Alonzo and William Watkins. (I'm not sure how the Watkins boys are related to them, but Elizabeth's mother was a Watkins, so perhaps it's through her side of the family.)

Robert's older brother John lived a few blocks away on Watson Street with his wife and sons. One of his sons was a shop keeper. Robert is believed to have died before the 1900 census was taken.


The 1900 census, taken on June 5th, 1900, shows Robert and Elizabeth have moved to Southard Street. No children are living with them, only their grandson, Sarah's son, William Pent. At this point, Sarah has died. The census shows that Elizabeth had 5 children, but only three are living: Ma Caty, Junior, and Amelia.


The 1910 census finds Robert and Elizabeth living alone. Robert doesn't work any longer, but Elizabeth still works as a stripper at the cigar factory. This, of course, is not stripper in the traditional sense. Her job would have been to strip the tobacco leaves that were to be rolled.  In this census it is confirmed that they had four children and one died. Why there is a discrepancy between 5 children and 4 I am not sure.

Their children:

726 Ashe Street
Amelia only went to school until the 7th grade. She married George B. Roberts at age 26 on August 4th, 1886. Together they had 5 children: Sarah Irene, George, Jr., Ruby, Archibald, and Marie. Amelia and her husband both worked at the cigar factory. In 1915, their son Archibald dies at age 16.  Her husband died in 1916, and the census in 1935 shows her as being a widow. She owned a house at 726 Ashe Street, which is where he mother died in 1924. She was a F.E.R. Clerk Worker(?). Her son George, age 43, lived with her. He also only attended school up to 7th grade. He was a sponger. The same situation is happening in 1940 except Amelia is no longer working. She resided in Key West until her death at age 97 in October of 1957. She is buried with her son, Archibald.

Sarah Sophia married Edwin Pent sometime between 1880 and 1881. They had one son, William Irwin. In 1885, Sarah Sophia is found living with her parents with her 3 yo son. She is a widow. No record can be found of her after 1885. She either died or remarried. In the 1900 census, William Irwin, age 18, is living with his maternal grandparents Robert and Elizabeth. William marries Mildred Carey, and they have two daughters, Ruby and Virginia. William dies in 1939 in Key West.

Like his father, Robert, Jr. was also a seaman. In 1886, he married fellow Bohemian Mary Eliza Spencer. They had four daughters: Lillian, Eliza, Julia, and Mary.

It is unclear which Robert Bell Brady died in 1927. At first, I assumed it was the senior Brady because the obit and burial record do not specify Junior, but Junior's 1920 census shows him living on a "lane off White Street" which was Stickney Lane, the same lane stated in the obit and burial record. Both father and son worked at Thompson Fish Co. I have no proof that Senior ever lived on Stickney Lane. The last census I have for Senior (1910) is very difficult to read the street name. My guess is Frances Street.

Catherine (Ma Catty) married Joseph Alexander "Pa Joe" Knowles, who was also from Rock Sound. They married when she was 14-16, depending on when she was born. Sources vary. From 1889-1909, they had 5 children: Rosalie (Rosie), Joseph Leeburg (Dodie), Kathleen (Aunt Teen), William Irwin, and my great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth (Grandma Libby). They lived on No Name Key near Big Pine for many years, only moving back to Key West late in life. Much more about them here.

According to Bahamas, Select Births, 1850-1891 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014, there was another daughter born on Oct. 22, 1871, Ann M. No information is known about her at this time.
Thompson Fish Co. on Right
Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory,
                                                        Photographer: Dale M McDonald Collection, 1935
It is unknown when Robert Bell Brady died, but it must have been at some point after the 1910 census was taken.

Elizabeth cannot be found in the 1920 census.

At age 89, on December 1, 1924, Elizabeth died of senility. They were living at 726 Ashe Street, which was Amelia's house. She is buried in the Key West Cemetery, but the location of her grave is unknown.

No known photos of Robert or Elizabeth exist, but here is one of John Alexander Brady's son, John, Jr. It can give a slight idea of what the Brady men looked like:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

G2 James Franklin Brooks (1832-1893) & Sarah Richardson (1841-1932)



James Franklin Brooks was my great-great grandfather on my father's mother's side. He was born on October 19, 1832 in Henderson County, Tennessee to Midget Brooks (1792-1875) and Rebecca O'Neal (1802-1870). (See their earlier post here.) At the time of his birth, Midget was 40 and Rebecca was 30.

A farming family, the Brooks eventually found their Tennessee land unproductive. In his book My Reid and Harrison Families in North America from Their Arrival to the Present, researcher Larry E. Reid posits the Brooks family moved from Henderson County to Pemiscot County, Missouri by April 18, 1857. This was fertile land on the banks of the Mississippi, but perhaps a bit too fertile. The land was often "wet and soggy due to the annual overflow of the Mississippi River. In fact, the word 'Pemiscot' is a Native American word meaning 'liquid mud'" (Reid p. 47).

In fact, according to Pemiscot County Land Receiver records, in 1857, James and his brother Bailey bought quite a bit of land. Bailey was actually the first settler in the town of Cooter since the previous great flood.


Yet, the 1860 census finds James at age 28, living with his parents and his oldest sister, Mary Childers, in Pemiscot County. Midget is the overseer of the farm, and James is a farmer. Why is he not living on his land? Or perhaps they are living on his land, but James ceded to his father as head of the household?  The census states James owns $1,000 worth of real estate. Is he waiting to marry? Is he waiting to see what will happen with the impending war?

During the Civil War, Missouri was a largely neutral state. At war's end, Missouri had sent "nearly 110,000 troops to the Union and about 40,000 troops for the Confederate Army" (Wikipedia.) It is not yet confirmed, but it's possible that James returns to Tennessee to volunteer for the Union Army on August 12th, 1863.  He is mustered into the 8th Tennessee Cavalry Company F the day before. (I am waiting for his file to be found and sent from the National Archives.) His younger brother, William, joined the same unit, Company D, on September 16th, but he wasn't mustered until Feb. 23, 1864. I will update when/if this info can be confirmed.

Meanwhile, this is what Sarah's life was like:

Sarah Richardson was born 2 days before Christmas in 1841 in Henderson County, Tennessee to Enoch Benjamin Richardson (1798-1870) and Permelia (maiden name unknown) (1799-?). Sarah was their 9th and last child. According to census records, Enoch was a farmer. It appears they did not own slaves, but that cannot be confirmed at this time.

It is not clear when Permelia's mother died, at some point after 1850 and before 1870. She is found at 50 years old in 1850 living with Enoch, keeping house with 5 children 18 and under to care for. Grandmother Sarah was 8 in that year.

William, Sarah's older brother, married Mary Elizabeth Seaton in 1845.  The 1850 census cannot be found for them, but they do have a daughter, Elizabeth, in Henderson County in 1848. Then a son, James Washington, the next year. Then two more sons, Elias Andrew and William in 1851, proving they are still in Tennessee at that time. Their next child, John, would be born in 1854 in Independence, Arkansas. So sometime between 1851-1854 they left Tennessee and moved West. Is this because his mother Permelia died? It is possible, but cannot be proven at this time.

William's whereabouts are important to Sarah and her older sister Lizzie who will soon leave home. After their mother dies, Enoch remarries a MUCH younger woman. He's in his 70s, she's in her late 30s. The woman's name was Mary A. Hurt, and she had three children: Louisa (12), Nancy (10), and Larry (9). Family lore has it that Sarah and Lizzie did not like their new stepmother and so they left home. On foot.

From a family researcher:

"In 1865, Sarah Richardson and her sister Lizzie Richardson walked from the Shiloh Battleground--probably in Hardin County, Tn. to Cooter, Mo. (Lizzie was crippled and it took them a while to make this trip [about 110 miles!]--stopping each night to eat and rest with people along their route.) They left home because their father had remarried and they did not get along with their step-mother. Their brother Will Richardson had already migrated to Cooter, Mo. It was he who built the first Methodist Church in Cooter."

This is problematic because I cannot find any proof that William Richardson ever lived in Pemiscott County, Missouri, but it's possible he, his wife, and children stopped there for a while before making it to Independence County, Arkansas. Pemiscot County IS on the way to Arkansas.The church that they are most likely talking about is the Mount Zion Church, which was the first church structure built in Cooter:

An early rural church located at Upper Cooter, probably erected in 1854 or soon afterward. The first building, of logs, was used as church and school. The later structure was torn down in 1926 and the church disbanded. The name is still used for the cemetery. (This is also the cemetery where James Franklin Brooks and Sarah are buried.) Mount Zion is a common church name suggested by the Biblical Mount Zion in the city of Jerusalem. (Kelly, Doerner, Biblical map)
 Source: Hamlett, Mayme L. "Place Names Of Six Southeast Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1938.

But by 1860, James Franklin Brooks is still living at home with his parents and older sister Mary. He and Sarah are not yet married. So the question becomes, when did Enoch re-marry, sparking the girls' long journey to Missouri on foot? No record of his marriage to Mrs. Hurt can be found.
And how did James Franklin Brooks and Sarah Richardson come to meet and be married anyway if William was in Arkansas by 1854 and in 1860 James was still living with his folks?

Family lore has it that Lizzie also married a Brooks.

I believe that Sarah Richardson's sister Lizzie married James Franklin's brother William R. Brooks (1838-1880). In 1860, he is married to an Elizabeth from Tennessee and they had 2 young daughters, Rebecca and Emiline. They would go on to have three more children, Molly, Thomas, and Sarah. This is all just guessing at this point that the Elizabeth that appears in these census records is Sarah's sister, but it is encouraging that they would name their first daughter Rebecca (Lizzie and Sarah's mother's name and their last daughter Sarah.

Back to Sarah Richardson and James Franklin Brooks:

Nearly ten years apart in age, Sarah and James would not have attended school together in Henderson County, but it is likely their origins brought them together somehow. If Lizzie married James' brother, then this would explain the connection. Going along with my theory that Lizzie did marry James's brother, Lizzie and William's first child was born in 1857, so they were married before then. Sarah is not listed as living with them in the 1860 census. It is not clear where she was in 1860. I have a hunch she may have gone back to live on her father's farm in Tennessee. He is the only family member for whom an 1860 census is also not available.
However it happened, Sarah and James married on February 24, 1866. On June 12, 1867, their first son, Marcus De Lafayette Brooks (Dee) was born in Cooter, Missouri. In 1869, another son was born, Furnander Jadie HW Brooks.


The 1870 census shows that James and Sarah's young family lived right next door to James's father, mother and older sister Mary. Both James and his father were farmers.

July 26, 1870, Sarah's father Enoch Richardson dies at age 72 in Henderson County, Tennessee.

The other children born to James and Sarah are as follows:

1871: Their first daughter, Keturah
1877: Theodore was born and died the same day, his unnamed twin was stillborn
1879: Louella


The 1880 census shows them living close to James' brother William and his wife (Sarah's sister) Elizabeth and their young children.

Other children born to them that decade:

1882: twins Dora and G. Noah "Sam" Brooks
1884: My great-grandfather Emery Brooks. While otherwise perfectly normal, and very handsome, he was born with  2 fingers on one hand, a cousin and fellow researcher believes it was the middle and the ring finger, that never separated in utero.  Both Aunt Geneva and Grandma Susie told her about this.  The medical term is called syndactyly

Sarah would have been 42. This was her last child.

Sarah was a housekeeper. Her nickname was "Puss" or "Aunt Puss" or "Grandma Puss". They lived in a house about a half mile north of the town of Cooter.

On Dec. 13, 1888, James/Sarah filed for a Civil War pension. It must have been denied because Sarah would apply as a widow years later. (Waiting for complete file.)


In 1892 on June 2nd, Sarah and James' first grandchild is born. Keturah and her husband Will Reid have a son, Louis Edward. Their happiness, however, would have been cut short, because just a mere three days later, on June 5th, their daughter Louella died at age 12. The cause is unknown.

Then James died on Nov. 12, 1893 at age 61. The cause is not known.  He was buried in Pemiscot County next to their daughter Louella; they share a headstone.

Perhaps because the family needs something happy to celebrate, Jadie marries Emma Jane Ketchum a few days after Christmas of this year.

The rest of Sarah's life:

A few weeks after James' death, Keturah has another son, Fred. Hopefully, this would have been a comfort to Sarah. 1895, Jadie and his wife Emma Jane have a son, Harry. In '96 and '97, Keturah would have two more children, Frank and Sarah's first granddaughter, Affie. In '97 and '99, Jadie has two sons, Tally and Bryan, who are born and don't survive.

In 1899, Dee and his wife Mattie have their first child, Vera. She dies though, after only 9 months.


1900 finds Sarah at age 60 as the head of her household, owner of the family farm. She is no longer a housekeeper, rather her occupation is stated as farmer. This is a testament to the strength of her character, as well as the changing times. Living with her are the twins, Dora and Sam, now 18. My great-grandfather Emery, 16, is also there, as well as her sister (and sister-in-law and now widow) Elizabeth (Lizzie.) She also has taken in a boarder who works as a dredger, 20 year old C.F. Warner.

Also in 1900, Jadie has another son, Rolla Elmer and Keturah also has a son, Henry "Clay".

This is the decade that will bring Sarah many grandchildren. They will come as follows:

1901: Jadie and Emma Jane have Molly, but I do not believe she survives.
1902: Dee and Mattie have Joseph D; Keturah has William "Carl"; Dora has her first child, Homer.
1903: Jadie's daughter Mannon is born.
1904: Jadie's daughter Margaret is born, but she does not survive.
1905: Dora's daughter Marcella is born.
1906: Dee and Mattie have Gladys Marie; Jadie's last child, Floyd is born.

In 1906, Sarah's youngest, Emery, marries my great-grandmother Susie Jane Patrick. 

1907: Emery and Susie's first daughter Floella was born; Dora's last child, Deward is born. This is the year Noah (Sam) and Linnie marry.

1908: Tragically, Floella died at 7 mos. of age.

Here, Sarah is photographed with her daughter Keturah Brooks Reid and family in front of the Reid home. This photo was taken at the beginning of the century, about 1907 based on the ages of the youngest boys:

Thanks to Larry E. Reid for the photo. This photo appears in his book mentioned above. (Sarah is on the far right.) [Louis, Fred, Frank, Affie, Clay, Carl, Joe D (I argue this is Dee's son), Will, Keturah, and Sarah]
Unfortunately, no close up of Sarah that I know of exists. Here's a cropped version of the same photo:

1908: Later that year, Susie and Emery's second daughter, Geneva was born. Then a third daughter, Jane, would be born in 1909 but she would die the same day. It is unknown when exactly, but Sam and Linnie's first child will be born before 1910, but will not survive.

At some point during this decade, Dee's wife Mattie dies, leaving him with two small children, Joe D and Gladys.


Sarah is now 69. She has apparently given up the farm and has moved in with her oldest son Marcus Dee Lafayette, as his wife Mattie is dead and his children are 7 and 4. The print is fuzzy, but the 1910 census appears to show Dee is a dry goods salesman who owns his home free and clear.

1911: Susie and Emery have my grandmother Mildred.
1912: Noah and Linnie's second child, Ruby is born.

1914: Susie and Emery's first and only son, Charles Frank is born.

On Dec. 9, 1914, Sarah applies again for a war pension as a widow from the state of Tennessee.

1915: Noah and Linnie's third and last child, Nina is born.


Sarah is now living with her son Noah in Madison County, Tennessee. The household consists of Noah, his wife Linnie, their two daughters Ruby and Nina, and Linnie's father James Moore, who is a widower. Noah is a farmer.

Tragedy strikes three times in 1922: Sarah's grandson, son of Furnander Jadie, Rolla Elmer, dies at age 22 on June 12th. The exact cause is unknown, but it was a long illness. Apparently, he was much beloved and always cheerful. On Sept. 8th, Sarah loses yet another grandson. Keturah's Henry Clay Reid also dies at age 22. Then, four months later, Sarah's second born, Furnander Jadie dies from a heart attack on October 11th. He is only 53. He leaves his wife, Emma Jane, two living sons, and one daughter. Like his son, he had a "bright and sunny disposition." From his obit:

Jadie was one of those big, open-hearted fellows, seldom seeing the more serious side of life. The world to him was more like a big playground than the wearisom and monotonous grind some make of it.

This would have been a serious blow to Sarah, who had already endured so much loss and heartache. A few years later in 1925, Jadie's other son Floyd will die at age 19 in a head on car accident. See obit:

Floyd Brooks of Osceola, Ark., who formerly lived at Cooter was injured so badly Monday night about ten p.m. that he died at two a.m. Tuesday morning.
It is understood that Floyd with a party of boy friends were going North on the hard road between Luxora and Burdette, Ark, when a car form Cape Girardeau, Missouri going south crashed into their car causing it to turn turtle (?). Floyd's head was dashed against the pavement with so much force as to fatally injure him.
All other occupants of the car escaped serious injury.
The body was brought to Cooter Wednesday for burial. Floyd was only nineteen when he met death and he was well known throughout this part of the country, having lived at Cooter for many years.
He is survived by his mother, Mrs. J.J. Brooks of Osceola and a brother, Harry Brooks, of Blytheville.
The funeral was held at 12 o'clock Wednesday at Cooter with the minister of the Methodist church of Osceola saying the last rites.
Six young men who were very dear friends of Floyd came from Osceola with the body as pall bearers and their grief for the loss of so dear a friend was distinctly apparent.
The floral offerings were a beautiful token of the high esteem in which the young man was held in the community.
Relatives of Steele and vicinity are very thankful for the kindness and and courtesy of his dear friends.
The Steele Enterprise, Steele, Missouri
Thursday, August 13, 1925 

Jadie's obit:

 F.J. Brooks, known among his friends and acquaintances as Jadie, died at four o'clock last Wednesday morning, at his home near this city. Funeral services were conducted Thursday afternoon, by Rev. C.N. Gaines, pastor of the Methodist Church and interment was made at Mt. Zion Cemetery. The funeral services were solemn and impressive and a beautiful part of the last rites was the participation of the Vaugh Quartette.
Jadie was a native of Pemiscot County, and was about 53 years old. Besides many relatives and a host of friends, he leaves a wife and two sons and one daughter to mourn his departure.
Jadie was one of those big, open-hearted fellows, seldom seeing the more serious side of life. The world to him was more like a big playground than the wearisom and monotonous grind some make of it. Of a bright and sunny disposition, he leaves a memory that will live long in the hearts of all who knew him and he will be missed.
Steele Enterprise - Steele, Missouri - Thursday, October 19, 1922

Back in Missouri now, Sarah is living at the home of her daughter Dora and her husband, Ham Smith, who is serving as Sheriff. In 1927, at age 85, Sarah has a fall while at the city jail and breaks her hip.

The hits keep coming in this decade. Just a few weeks into the 1929, Keturah falls ill with TB and dies. She is only 57. 6 months later, Dee dies from heart trouble and colitis. He is 62.


Sarah is still in the town of Steele, living with her daughter Dora, her husband James Ham Smith, a farmer now, and their 23 year old son Deward, who is a manager of some sort.

On April 9th, 1932, Sarah falls and hits her head on Dora's dining room table. The hit is severe, rendering her unconscious. A doctor is called, and she responds to treatment, but soon lapses back into a coma and dies a short while later. She was 90 years old.

Her obituary is as follows:

Mrs. Sarah Brooks, age 90 years, 3 months, and 11 days, died Saturday morning at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. Ham Smith, in this city, after a few weeks' illness. "Aunt Puss" as she was known by her wide acquaintanceship, was born at Lexington, Tenn., Dec. 23, 1841, and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Noah Richardson. In the year of 1864 she moved to Pemiscot county with her parents, and soon afterwards was married to James Franklin Brooks, a former Lexington boy, who had also moved to this community. To this union were born 10 children, three of whom are left to mourn her departure, Mrs. J.H. Smith, Emery, and Sam.
During her early life the deceased united with the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, and to the end retained her membership there, although the church has been removed. After her marriage a home was established at Cooter and lived there until about twenty-five years ago, and has since made her home with her children. Mr. Brooks died in the year 1892.
Besides the one daughter and two sons surviving she also is survived by sixty-eight grandchildren and great-grandchildren-71 in all who will forever cherish the memory of a kind and loving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Funeral services were held Sunday afternoon at the Methodist church conducted by the pastor, Rev. H.W.Doss. Special songs that were favorites of Aunt Puss were sung by a quartet from Steele and the No. 8 quartet. Burial with the German Undertaking Company in charge was made in the Mt. Zion cemetery.
Steele Enterprise - Steele, Missouri - Thursday, April 14, 1932

*Note: there is no proof that I've seen that she moved to Missouri with her parents; also no proof that she walked to Missouri.

James and Sarah's Legacy Summarized:

Marcus Dee Lafayette married Martha "Mattie" Anthony on Dec. 19, 1897. Marcus was 30. Marcus was a farmer. Their first child, Vera, was born on Feb. 15, 1899. She would not live to see her 1st birthday. Grandmother Sarah, still alive, would have had to see her first grandchild, who had lived 8 months, buried. Their next child was Joseph D Brooks. He was born Oct. 18, 1902. He would live a long life, dying in 1986 in California. Their last child, Gladys Marie, was born four years later on July 25, 1906. She would marry, have at least 1 daughter, live most of her life in Memphis, Tennessee. Like her brother and her mother, she would live a long life, dying at 90. Dee, however, would die of colitis and heart insufficiency at age 62 the day after Gladys' 23rd birthday on July 26, 1929.

Fernander Jadie married Emma Jane Ketchum a few weeks after his father's death. He was 24; Emma Jane was only 16. Their first child, Henry Holloway Brooks, was born a couple years later in February of 1895. They will have a total of 8 children together, of whom only 2 will live a full life. Jadie's own life was cut short by a heart attack. He died at age 53 in 1922.

Keturah married William Massie Reid when she was 18. Together, they had 6 children.
Photo courtesy of Larry E. Reid, also appears in his book mentioned above.
Keturah's husband dies in 1913. She dies of TB at age 57.

Dora married James Hamilton Smith in 1901 at age 19. They had two sons, Homer and Deward, and one daughter Marcella. Her husband "Ham" was the sheriff at one time. At age 37, Deward was killed in action, December 16, 1944, in the Battle of Luxembourg, near the small town of Wiltz. He was married but did not have any children. Dora would care for her mother until the end of her life. Dora lived to be 89.

Dora's twin, G. Noah "Sam" married Linnie Moore in 1907. He was 25; she was 24. Sam was a farmer. At some point before 1910, they had a child who did not survive. They would go on to have two daughters, Ruby and Nina. A month after Sarah's death, Sam died from pernicious anemia. Pernicious anemia is a condition in which the body can't make enough healthy red blood cells because it doesn't have enough vitamin B12. Without enough vitamin B12, your red blood cells don't divide normally and are too large. Severe or long-lasting pernicious anemia can damage the heart, brain, and other organs in the body. The term “pernicious” means “deadly.” The condition is called pernicious anemia because it often was fatal in the past, before vitamin B12 treatments were available. Now, pernicious anemia usually is easy to treat with vitamin B12 pills or shots.

Emery's story can be found here. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Thieves! Indentured Servants! Tobacco! Oh my: William Spurgeon and Mary Styles

My g8 grandfather, William Spurgeon, was born on May 7, 1704 in Mile End Town, a former hamlet in Stepney in the county of Middlesex, which is East and North of London, England. His parents were John Spurgeon (1662-1708) and Elizabeth Mary Ostler (1669-?). John was a Tobbaconist.

William's Christening

Mary Styles was born a few months later on 16 November, 1704 in the same county to Thomas Styles (1652-?) and mother Mary (dates unknown). Thomas was a weaver and died shortly after Mary was born.

St. Dunstan, the church where William was baptized in Stepney
Growing up in one of the roughests parts of London in the 18th century, I imagine both William and Mary had difficult childhoods. According to other researchers, it looks like William's father may have died when William was 4 years old. I am not sure when his mother died. The same goes for Mary. It is entirely possible she was an orphan from an early age.

In any case, in February of 1718, William Spurgeon stole several garments which were drying in a woman's garden. Mary Styles bought the garments from him, and the garments were found in her possession. Both were convicted. William was sentenced to transportation. It is unclear what Mary's sentence was. Shortly after that, William's older brother, James, broke into a widow's house and stole clothes. He was found in possession of stolen property and was also sentenced to transportation to America.

Account of their crimes and trial
William was only 14 when he was sentenced to transportation; his old brother was about 19 or 20.

It may be possible that their parents had died when they were young, forcing them to a life of crime. It may also be that James and William planned their crimes in order to be transported together.

Upon researching their particular neighborhood of London in the 18th century, I found that Stepney was the source of the plague in 1665. This is the same neighborhood where Jack the Ripper would kill in 1888. Think prostitutes, fish mongers, sewage and deep poverty. It's non surprise to me that young men and women would do anything to get out and start new, even if it meant being an indentured servant.

As indentured servants, William and James set sail aboard the ship Margaret in May 1719, bound for America. They arrived at the port of Oxford in Talbot County, Maryland in June of 1719. William was bought in August and James was bought in September 1719 by Richard Snowden, "The Iron Master" of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

An Ann Spurgeon is also on that ship, but it does not say that she committed any crime. She is sold to Rosanna Lees in Maryland in September 1719. If she is their sibling, it may be that since her parents were dead and her brothers were being transported, she may have volunteered to be indentured as well.

It is unknown how long William and James were indentured to Snowden, (one researcher says 14 years,) but in any case, James and William worked Snowden's land near Baltimore (another place I lived for 2 years.)

Meanwhile, Mary Styles commits some sort of crime in London. She is jailed for the first six months of 1728 and in June she is transported on the ship Elizabeth. She arrives in Potomac, Maryland in August, 1729 at age 24.  Also on that ship with her is a John Spurgeon, also from Middlesex county. I have a feeling this may be a brother of William and James.

Mary and William haven't seen each other in ten years, but they marry two years later in Maryland, which means William was a free man. According to Dickey, the brothers William and James must have "proved themselves industrious to Snowden and he invited them to move to the open land he was heading for." This land was Prince George's county, near Monocacy. James and Williams eventually bought land and began farming tobacco. Ironic, as their father, John, was a Tobbaconist.

In 1738, the brothers bought land on the banks of the Potomac River, right across from one another, James on the Maryland side, William on the Virginia side. Below is a photo taken by researcher Dr. Dickey:

William and Mary had at least 7 sons and 1 daughter. Their immediate family line is as follows:

In 1729, their first child, John, was born. He would become my 7th great grandfather. Like his parents, John would grow up to be a documented Loyalist. He fought for England in the French and Indian War. He married Maryland-born Margaret Elizabeth Pennington. Together they had at least 3 children: 2 boys, William and John, and a girl Margaret, who would be a 6th great-grandmother to me. John died in 1779 at age 50 in Camden, South Carolina.

Their second son was born in 1734. They named him William. He first married Mary Jane Sellers (not sure yet if she's kin to my Sellers). They had at least 11 children: William, John, Josiah, Jesse, Margret, Mary, Agnes, Janet, Isaiah, Elizabeth, and Joseph.  A Loyalist like his parents and brothers, he would become a Colonel in the British Army. He joined the march with Lord Cornwallis and was named a dispatch-rider. After the war was over and lost, William felt his life was in grave danger, and actually hid for several years. His wife and children were ardent patriots. Hearing that land was being given to Loyalists in Canada, Col. William Spurgeon left his family and moved north. He eventually married a new woman in Canada, Ann Redick Bedsaul. He had four more children with her: Aaron, Samuel, Ann, and Sarah. He died in 1806. His American son, Joseph, became a North Carolina state Senator.

George was born in 1736. He died in 1827 but nothing was found about his life.

Next, a daughter, Agnes in 1738. She apparently lived until 1847, but no records of her or who she may have married can be found.

Also in 1738 (either twins or wrong dates), Samuel was born. At the age of 26, he married Sarah "Sally" Ledford. They had 5 sons and 1 daughter: William, Samuel, John, Eli, Sarah, and Zacheriah.

James was the next son, born in 1740. When he was 21, he married Eleanor Peterson. They had at least 7 children: Eleanor, Nancy Ann, John, Ezekial, Ellender, Mary Ann, and James. Eleanor would only live to be 6 years old. James lived a nice long life, dying at age 80 in Ohio.

Jesse was borth the next year, in 1741. Little his known about his life.

David is their last child, born in '42. Little is known about his life.

William and Mary's demise:

According to another researcher's notes on Rootsweb, William was killed in 1755 on the Indian Trail west of Frederick County, Virginia at the start of the French and Indian War.

The year William died, Mary moved to Rowan County, North Carolina with her sons. She lived there until her death at the age of 79 in 1783.

Researching this set of grandparents was particularly fascinating. I imagine them as early day Charles Dickens characters who committed their crimes out of necessity rather than malice. In fact, that one would even be transported for stealing a few garments is a testament to the severity of the crown many of the would-be Americans were so desperate to escape.

However, it isn't as simple as all that. What is possibly the most fascinating fact about these two is that William and Mary both remained loyal to the crown. One would think they would hold some malice toward those that enslaved them for their small crimes, yet they remained steadfastly loyal. William even gave his life for England's cause during the French and Indian War. If anything, researching these two has made me realize how complicated the origins of this country was. The history books want us to believe that everyone who came to this country wanted to be independent, but that wasn't always the case.

In addition, what more than anything that has been missing in many of these stories is romance. How romantic that these two, who must have fallen in love when they were barely pubescent, waited for each other nearly a decade with an ocean between them before they could marry. Granted, both were either incarcerated or slaves for many of those years, but that's a small matter in the scheme of things.

Works Cited

Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emigrants in Bondage
    1614-1775. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc.: Baltimore 1988. Print.

Dickey, Gary Alan. Spurgeon Family History.  
    1993. Web.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Boston Connection: The Revolutionaries Thomas Holden & Margaret Spurgeon

Thomas Holden, Senior (1749-1810) 6th Great-Grandfather on the Day side

Son of Massachusetts natives Simon Holden (1700-1786) and Abigail Grover (1713-1760), Thomas was born on May 8th, 1749 in Charlestown, Massachussetts. He was allegedly one of the participants in the Boston Tea Party on December 16th, 1773.  It is not widely known who committed this act of rebellion, but it is known that many who participated left town immediately for fear of imprisonment. Many were also in their 20's, and Thomas would have been 24. Two weeks after the Boston Tea Party, he is found in Spartanburg, South Carolina marrying 18 year-old Margaret Spurgeon.

Now, how is it possible for Thomas to leave Boston, travel the long trek to upland South Carolina, and find a girl to marry all in 2 weeks? Say he did leave right after the Tea Party event. Laurens County, SC is nearly 1,000 miles from Boston. Even traveling 20 miles a day on horseback it would still take him nearly 50 days to reach Spartanburg. Map of the route.

The only real proof that our Thomas Holden was a Tea Party participant is a paper found by K. Casagranda in the Old Courthouse Museum in Marshall, Texas which stated that Thomas HOLDEN, Sr. was a member of the Boston Tea Party and shortly after left home never to return. (This is according to a story from another researcher on The museum is currently closed for renovations, but I intend to try to find this paper.) Why this mysterious paper would be found in East Texas is another question.

Another problem is that on his marriage license, Thomas Holden claims to have been born in Spartanburg, SC, but both of his parents were born and died near Boston. Did he do this to try and hide his identity?

It's possible the date is wrong on the marriage certificate. For example, Thomas and Margaret do not begin having children until their first child until 1777. This is unusual because, in my research experience, I've noticed people of that time usually began having children right away, though it is possible their early children didn't survive and were not recorded.

In any case, it is documented with the Daughters of the American Revolution that Thomas helped the war effort by providing forage and provisions for the militia in South Carolina from 1779-1781.

To further prove this is the same Thomas Holden, patriot from Boston, Thomas's father, Simon Holden, gives Thomas a portion of land in his will dated 1782. In the will, it states that should Thomas be dead or never return, then his portion of the estate would go to another sibling. There is no evidence that Thomas ever returned.

Below, I will begin to piece together what I know about Thomas Holden and Margaret Spurgeon. Margaret (1755-1811) was the daughter of John Spurgeon (1729-1779) of Maryland and Margaret Elizabeth Pennington (1731-1768) also of Maryland. Ironically, Margaret's father John, was a loyalist.

Their first child, Julia, was born in 1777. There is nothing to support her living beyond infancy. At this time, Thomas was leasing land, and had borrowed some money. He was issued a deed of release from a David Adam in 1778. It seems it took Thomas a few years to get on his feet after leaving Boston (and a relatively wealthy family) so abruptly 5 years earlier. At some point in this time frame, Thomas makes a claim for financial aid due to his revolutionary service.

In 1781, their second child and my g5 great-grandmother, Lydia, was born.

Two years later, a son came along, Thomas, Jr.

At some point in 1785, Thomas and Margaret have another son, John. Doing well now, Thomas buys 300 acres on a branch of the Tyger River in Laurens County, South Carolina and 444 acres on Brushy Fork in nearby Chester County on July 14th.  Chester would soon become a great trade center for agriculture, and Thomas would have been one of the first settlers there.

Tyger River

Thomas's father Simon dies on June 8, 1786. That year, Thomas and Margaret have their third son and name him Simon.

Things must have been going very well for Thomas. That fall of 1786, he bought 1,000 acres on a fork of Big Generostee Creek on October 16th. A month later he bought 558 acres on Tugelow River and Beaver Dam Creek.

A couple months later on the first day of 1787, another son was born, Joseph Jackson Holden. Thomas must have thought he was on top of the world. He was a large landholder, farmer, slaveowner, and he now has 1 daughter, possibly two if Julia lived, and 4 sons. This is what he fought for and risked his life for by standing up to the British, the ability to buy land, and work it, to make his own way in the world.

The next year, another son was born, Mahlon Beeson. At 8 years old, Lydia finally gets a little sister the next year. Sarah was born.

Next, Hugh was born in 1790. In June of 1792, Thomas bought 311 acres on a branch of Dirbens Creek, which is close to Fountain Inn, SC. (Interestingly enough, I have been to Fountain Inn, SC many times, when I worked with a no-kill animal shelter there.) Later that year in October, they welcomed another daughter, Abigail.

In August of 1798, Thomas bought 241 more acres on Little Beaver Dam Creek. He now has a grand total of almost 3,000 acres in the uplands of South Carolina. (Incidentally, this is very near where my daughter and I lived the year I taught at Clemson.)

In 1795, their last son, Charles, was born.

On May 5, 1796, my 5th great-grandmother, Lydia marries Harvey Day Pearson, at the ripe old age of 14. Harvey was 20. I haven't looked deeply into the Pearson line yet, but I suspect they were either relatives or very close friends, the Holdens, Pearsons, and Days.

On July 16, 1798, Thomas's first grandchild was born, Joel Pearson, to Lydia and Harvey.

Still not finished with having children themselves, in 1799, their last child was born to Thomas and Margaret, a daughter Margaret.

Lydia and Harvey will have two more children in the next couple of years, Margaret in 1800, and John in 1803.

1805 is a key year for this family. Their oldest son John marries South Carolina girl Elizabeth Flannagan. It appears the Holden family was doing well. But, the land wasn't. According to one researcher, "The red clay soils of South Carolina did not wear well under cultivation, especially after 1800, when an emergent upland cotton culture depleted soil much quicker than had subsistence food crops or pasturing" (The Tates of Pearl River). Someone had the idea to move south towards Spanish West Florida. It would be quite an undertaking to move such a large family so far.

But they do it. Somehow, Thomas and Margaret, along with their 11 children, in-laws, grandchildren, slaves and friends, make the great exodus from Laurens County, South Carolina through the Indian-saturated, dangerous and unknown landscape (about 650 miles) to the southern county of Amite, in Mississippi/St. Helena's Parish, Louisiana. Going 15 miles a day, it would have taken them about 6 weeks.

My g5 great-grandmother, Lydia, would have been pregnant with her fourth child, Thomas, whom she gave birth to in mid-March of 1805 in Louisiana.

Thomas, Sr. would have 5 more years to live; Margaret, 6 more years. It's not clear how Thomas spent much of his time, but the 1805 census shows that he bought land, was a farmer, and owned 6 slaves.

Next door to him lived Thomas, Jr., his new wife Elizabeth Flannagan, and their infant son John, along with 2 slaves. Next door to them were Flannagans, most likely Elizabeth's parents, also from South Carolina.

The years between 1805-1810 seemed happy enough, but not always. At age 19, their son Simon married Sarah Kennedy on 7 May, 1805. At 20 years old, their son John married Hester (Hettie) Nichols on 2 Dec., 1805.

In March of 1805, their 16 year old daughter Sarah marries Charles Boser. They will be married 5 years with no children. Either Charles dies or they divorce, but in any case, Sarah marries her second husband, George Newman in May of 1810, a few months before her father dies.

On January 2nd, 1806, Mahlon, 18, marries 16 year old Catherine Nichols.

In 1807, John and Hettie have their first child, Mahlon. That same year, Mahlon and Catherine also have a son they name Mahlon.

Lydia and Harvey had another son, Charles, in 1808, but he was either stillborn or died the same day. Thomas, Jr. and Elizabeth would give them three more healthy grandchildren, Hugh, Mary, and Sarah.

In 1809, their son Joseph Jackson married Tennesee girl Martha Vashtie Fields on July 27th.

Their daughter Abigail married James Tate on 14 December, 1809. She was an interesting character. According to the writer of The Tates of Pearl River, within the previous two months, "Abby" Holden and two other suitors had applied for marriage licenses in Amite County, first on October 13, 1809, with James Graham, and next on October 28, 1809, with Robert Kilcrease, in the latter case with a note from Thomas Holden to issue the license to Kilcrease to marry his daughter. In neither of the first two cases was there a return on the marriage.This researcher seems to believe that Abby was either a terrible flirt or it was a shotgun marriage situation. In any case, she and James Tate married and Nancy Tate was born in 1810.

Thomas died on Nov. 7, 1810. He was 61. Margaret followed him at some point the next year. She was 56. In their 40 years together, they raised a large family: at least 12 children, 11 lived to adulthood.

Their immediate legacy is as follows:

Lydia and Harvey Day Pearson had 9 children who lived to adulthood. Lydia lived to be 75. Much more about them later.

Thomas, Jr. and Elizabeth had 14 children. He lived to be 66.

John and Hettie had 9 children together. John died when he was 55.

Simon is kind of an interesting character. From a quick glance at his census records, it looks like he may have had at least three wives, including relations and children with a slave. He had 8 children total, and died when he was 64.

Joseph and Martha had 6 children. He only lived to be 51.

Mahlon and Catherine had 19 children together, but I believe some of them might have be confused with John and Hettie's children. Hettie and Catherine were sisters, and a lot of their children's names overlap.

Sarah did not have children with her first two husbands. At age 27, in 1816, she married Barry Bayne West. Together, they had 9 children. She lived to be 71.

Not much is known about Hugh. He married Ruth Mixon, but there is no evidence of any children. He only lived to be 36.

Their last child Abigail had 7 children with her husband James. James Tate was quite successful with land and farming.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

South Carolina Roots: G4 Lewis Chamblee & Sara Mary Polly Burriss (Bouroughs)

Researching my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Rina Chamblee, I found that she married at 12 years old. Why would her parents allow her to do that? Hopefully, delving deeper into their lives will help me come up with an answer.

Lewis Benjamin Chamblee was born in 1776 in Anderson, South Carolina. How interesting to find a family connection there as I lived near there from 2008-2009 while teaching at Clemson. Lewis was born to Irish-born Isaac Chamblee and Lucretia Jones, which makes him a first generation American.

In 1803, at the age of 27, he marries his niece, Sara Mary "Polly" Burriss in Charleston, SC. She was 25, and the daughter of his much older sister Sara Mary Chamblee and Joshua Burriss or Boroughs. Immediately, they began having children and did not stop for 30 years. They had at least 12 children in total. My g3 grandmother was the youngest. Perhaps the reason they married her so young was that they were ready to retire from child-rearing.

In 1834, Lewis buys 40 acres of land in Pickens County, Alabama.

However, in 1840, they are still living in Anderson, SC, Lewis's hometown. Lewis was a farmer and he owned 3 slaves. Two years later, Sara Burriss was dead at age 64. Rina would have been 10 years old when her mother died.

This is, I'm sure, why her father married her to Pleasant Moorehead at age 12.

But first, Lewis would move his family to his 40 acres in Pickens County, Alabama. There, they engaged in farming in what is called the Black Belt, a region of fertile black topsoil. In 1850, at the age of 74, Lewis was still farming and his estate was worth $7800. Quite successful!

However, after that census, he would not live long to enjoy his wealth and success. Lewis died at age 79 in 1855. The date is not known and his gravesite has not been found. What is known is that he died before his way of life was changed forever by The Civil War. He died not knowing failure and hardship, unlike the fate of his children.

Lewis and Sara Mary Polly's legacy is a long one and impressive in scope.

Their first child, James Burriss Chamblee was born on January 7, 1803. He married Nancy Agnes Watson and they had 8 children, mostly boys. He fought in the Civil War. He was a farmer and owned slaves. After the war, a black farm laborer, a domestic servant and her 1 year-old baby lived with them. He died in 1880.

John David was born the next year on June 23rd. He married Sarah Fergusen. At some point before 1850, they moved to Leake County, Mississippi. This is quite possibly why his sister Rina moved to Leake County with her husband Pleasant Fortune Moorehead at that same time. He and Sarah had 9 children.

Then came Jane in 1807. She married an A. Gilmore, according to another researcher, but that has not been confirmed. It is not known when she died or if she children.

Next came Malinda in 1808. She married a Strickland and had at least 3 daughters, Malinda, Nancy, and Lina. I believe Malinda and her husband must have died before 1850 because in 1850 the three girls, 16, 11, and 8, and living with their grandfather Lewis.

Sarah was born in 1816. She married Reddin Eatman and they had 10 children. They lived in Greene County, Alabama all their lives. She died in 1878.
There might have been a daughter Martha next, but no records can be found.

Elizabeth "Betsy" was born in 1820. She married Matthew Snipes and together they had 14 children. Unlike many of her brothers and sisters, she did not move to Alabama. Rather she stayed in Anderson, South Carolina her whole life. She had her first child at age 13, so marrying early takes precedent in this family.

Rachel was born in 1822. No information has been found, so she may have died young.

Sallie was born in 1824. When she was 20, she married James C. Langdon. They moved to Leake County, Mississippi and had 10 children over the span of 20 years. She died in 1880 at the age of 56.

Next born was Isham or Isam, or he and Sallie may have been twins. Isham married Isabella Elizabeth Cochran at age 22. They had 8 children together and lived most of their lives in Alabama and then they moved to Freestone, Texas in 1870. They lived there until he died at the advanced age of 96 in 1920. Isham was a soldier in the Confederate Army and a stone mason.
Jacob was born in 1825. He married Charity Cockrell and they had 10 children. They lived in Alabama all their lives. I have not found anything which states he fought in the war, which is unusual. If one brother did the others usually did.

Lastly, my g3 grandmother Rina Theresa was born in 1832. She married Pleasant Moorehead when she was 12 years old. They had 8 children and lived most of their lives in Mississippi. Much more about her can be found in a separate post.