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.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Maternal Grandmother's Family: G3 Pleasant Fortune Morehead and Macarina Theresa Chamblee

After spending over a year on my father's side of the family and my mother's paternal family, I am turning towards my mother's maternal side of the family, the Days-Spencer. Other family researchers have explored the Days extensively, and I am thankful for that. For now, I have chosen to focus on the Spencer side of the family, which is all knew territory and hard-going.

Not much is known about this side of the family because my great-grandmother, Sarah Alice Spencer, was orphaned at a young age. She literally lived in an orphanage and her children said she never spoke about her time there or her family very much.

For this post, I will explore the lives of her maternal grandparents: Pleasant Fortune and Rina Morehead.
Where Rutherford County is located

Pleasant Fortune Morehead was born on December 11, 1823, in Robinson Creek, Rutherford County, North Carolina to parents David Morehead and Sarah Fortune. He was born just ten months after his parents married.

Chimney Rock in Rutherford County and Lake Lure.

He was the oldest of 13 children. At some point between 1830-1840, PF strikes off to Mississippi. In 1841, he is recorded in Attala County, Mississippi. He is 18. It is not clear what he is doing there. Somehow, he makes his way over to Western Central Alabama. It is there he meets the french-derived Macarina Theresa Chamblee. They were married on November 14th, 1845. He was 21. She was 12. Though she doesn't have her first child until the age of 16, this is very distressing. Rina was the youngest child of Lewis Chamblee and Mary Buriss. Was it possible they fell on hard times? Did they need to unload her?

In any case, soon after they were married, PF enlists as a private in the company commanded by Sydenham Moore, the 1st regiment of the Alabama Volunteers commanded by Col. James R. Coffee. He enlists in April, 1847 at Eutaw, Alabama in Greene County. They were called the Eutaw Rangers.  In a letter to his wife, Moore writes that his regiment has not moved as expected, and he expresses frustration at their lack of involvement in the fighting; he blames their commanding officer for this: "You have no idea how impatient we become at being left behind when others are sent on. Our regiment seems destined to play no important part in this war...It is all owing, I believe, to the low repute in which our Colonel is held. Every day he is cursed more & more by the officers & men of the regiment. Many have said to me, 'If you had been elected we would have been at Monterey and had some chance to distinguish ourselves.'" He discusses sickness among the soldiers and conditions in camp, where the weather is hot and the men are annoyed by pests such as fleas and "giggers" ("an insect here which penetrates the feet, gets sometimes under the nail and deposits its eggs. If they are not destroyed they will ruin the feet and cause all the toes to come off").

They did end up going to Mexico and seeing quite a bit of action. PF was discharged in March 1848. PF and Rina remained in Alabama for a short while, long enough to have their first child, Landerson, in 1849. By 1850, they have moved West to Neshoba County, Mississippi. By then, PF's father and family have also moved to Neshoba County from North Carolina, and PF, Rina, and Landerson live down the street from them. PF's father is a farmer. PF claims to be a Baptist. Now, this must mean his occupation was Baptizing people. I didn't know this could be an occupation. His personal worth at that time was only 230 dollars.

By 1860, however, things are looking up. PF and Rina live in Leake County, just east of Neshoba. PF is a farmer and is still performing baptisms. They've had many more children and have also increased their personal wealth a great deal. Their real estate is worth 2,000 and their personal wealth is 9,000. A fortune for 1860. PF's younger brother, David, 21, also lives with them and helps on the farm.

His father David has also moved to Leake County. His real estate was worth 5,000 and his personal estate was 2200. He must have owned a great deal of land and a fine plantation home. His children were attending school, which means they didn't have to work the farm, which means they more than likely owned slaves.

David would die later that decade in 1867 at the age of 71 in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana. Why he was in LA, I have no idea. Will investigate further.

In her application for a widow's war pension, Rina explains that their house was burned and PF's papers were destroyed in the fire. It is more than likely that their home was destroyed during the Civil War. I suspect that David's, being a large home, was also destroyed. Perhaps that's why he was in Louisiana, scouting new property.

1870 finds PF and Rina back in Neshoba County to the west. PF is solely a farmer now. Their estate is not worth nearly as much as it was the decade before. Their real estate is 1300, their personal estate is 900. Like so many after the civil war, the glory days are over. In fact, PF would die in 1871 at the age of 48 on October 5th. Why did he die so young? Why did he quit baptizing? Did he lose faith? Was he depressed? Could he have ended his own life? Or did some accident or harm befall him? I will continue to investigate.

This leaves us with Rina and how she spent the rest of her life. When her husband died she was only 39.

1880 finds her still in Neshoba County. She keeps house. Three of her sons live with her and are farm laborers. One daughter lives with her and helps her keep house. One boarder also lives with them. She lives down the street of her daughter Sallie, my g2 grandmother and her family.

In 1897, she applies for her first widow's pension.

By 1900, she has given up her own home. She lives with her youngest son, Albert, and his family in Neshoba County. He is a farmer.

It is not known at this time where she was in 1910. I could not find her living with any of her children. It's possible she lived with one of her grandchildren.

In 1919, she makes another appeal for a widow's pension. She is living just to the South in the adjacent county of Scott.

She cannot be found in the 1920 census either. She died on July 17th, 1923 at age 90. An impressive feat for a woman in this day.

Pleasant and Rina's legacy:

Landerson, b. 1849, married Georgiana Josephine Banks. They had 9 children. Landerson died in 1910 in Scott County, Mississippi.

Sarah "Sallie", my g2 grandmother, was b. 1853. She married Thomas Caldwell Spencer. Together, they had four children. Sallie died when she was 54.

Marietta, b. 1856, married Oliver Eatman. They had 3 children. They lived a great many years in her mother's home state of Alabama. She died in 1939 in Blosshing, Alabama.

Tempa Ann, b. 1859, married Andrew Jackson Eatman. They lived in Leake County, Mississippi all their lives. They had 5 children. She died in 1922.

James Webster, b. 1861, married Mary Mattie Cooper in 1886. They had 9 children. He was a general farmer mostly in Scott County, Mississippi. He died in 1946.

Joseph Swain, b. 1863, married Lavina Jane Barrett in 1883. They had 6 children. The family is pictured here:

Standing L to R is John H. (age 11), William "Pleas" (age 15) Joseph T. (Joe) (age 13). Seated is Warren "Harrison" (age 9), Swain (age 36), Grady Burton "Judge" (age 3), Lavina Jane Barrett, (age 46), and Rodger (age 6).   Lavina would be dead two years later.

Madora, or Dora, was born in 1868. She married Lecil or Lemmuel Barrett (probably a sibling of her brother's wife.) They had 9 children. They moved around a bit, Memphis, Neshoba, and finally settled in Lamar County. Dora died there in 1938.

Lastly, John Albert, born 1869. He married Leona Williams in 1895. They had 8 children. Like his brothers and fathers before him, he was a general farmer mostly in Neshoba County. By 1930, he'd moved to Newton, Mississippi though he continued to farm. He died in 1952 at age 83.