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.