Sunday, October 9, 2011

How Would You Like to Spend Eternity Being Mistaken for Your Husband’s Second Wife?

Headstone of B.F. and Mary Marbury in
the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County, TN
On my list of favorite headstones is one that can be found in the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery in Haywood County, TN. Until this week, I thought it was the headstone of my third great grandparents, Benjamin Franklin Marbury and his wife Margaret Yelverton.

The problem was, while working on the Yelverton line, I couldn’t get the birth date of Margaret or “Mary” as I assumed she must have been called, since that was written on the tombstone, to correspond with the dates on any of the U.S. censuses in which she was included. Also, on, the dates of 1847 – 1918 are used for Margaret on many other family trees.

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A section of the 1860 census which includes the Samuel Yelverton family.
A look at the census of 1860, shows Margaret Yelverton, the daughter of Samuel Yelverton is seven. That would mean the year of her birth was 1853, not 1847 which is written on the tombstone. That’s a pretty big mistake to make on either the census or the headstone.

I could find nothing else online or in any books to help me so I figured I was stuck.

Then, I remembered that about a year ago I visited with a cousin, Janet, who is also from the Marbury line. Janet had some of the research and notebooks from her late aunt, Alice Marbury Cobb who was into ancestry long before the internet made it a lot easier. Thankfully, I took photos of some of some of Aunt Alice’s notes and I still had them.

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From the notes of Alice Marbury Cobb
And there I found the solution to my problem. At some point, Aunt Alice figured it out and made a note in one of her notebooks. Maggie Yelverton was actually Benjamin’s first wife while the “Mary” with whom he is buried was his second wife.

Of course, this answer created even more questions so I tried sorting through the history a little more.

The Yelvertons

Maggie Yelverton was born in Haywood County, TN in 1853 to Sam Yelverton and Ann M. Forrest who I already knew really screw up my family tree by being first cousins.

Sam’s uncle and Ann’s father, Samuel Forrest, had moved to Haywood County, TN from Wayne County, NC and by 1850 was 55 and living there with his wife, Zilpha Sherrod Forrest who was 56, their daughter, Ann M. and their nephew Sam Yelverton.

Ten years later, in the 1860 census of Haywood County, Sam and Ann had married and had the first five of what would be a family of eleven children. Maggie, the second to oldest was seven at the time. The Yelverton’s were very successful farmers and Samuel listed the value of his real estate as $3,200 and property as $3,200. At this time, Sam Yelverton owned four slaves, two females who were age 15, one female who was eight and a little boy who was four.

The family’s farm was next to Ann’s parents (Sam’s maternal aunt and uncle AND in-laws) who listed the value of their personal property at $10,660 and had five houses for slaves so they were quite prosperous for the time and area of the country.

Only eight years later, on September 20, 1868, Maggie, then 15, married Benjamin Franklin Marbury in Haywood County.

The Marburys

The Marbury lineage decends back through the generations from Alfred the Great and a few of the kings and queens of Scotland and England to Francis Marbury who immigrated to Maryland from England about 1680.

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The people in these tintype photos, provided by Janet Marbury Lewis,
are unidentified but are thought to have been passed down from Robert Green Marbury.
I wonder if any of them could be Benjamin Franklin Marbury,
Maggie Yelverton or Mary Wilkins. 
Ben’s father, Robert Green Marbury had moved with his family as an infant from North Carolina, first to middle Tennessee, and then, in the 1810s to Haywood County. He became a well-respected minister in the Primitive Baptist Church and conducted hundreds of the marriages and funerals that took place in the area in the mid-1800s in Haywood County.

It appears Robert may have actually adopted Ben from a family member or took responsibility for him and his siblings when their parents could not. In a court document from November 5, 1860, Robert Marbury, who was 51, became the “sole guardian” of John L. Marbury (age 19) Robert Marbury (age 15), Ben F. Marbury (age 11), Joseph Marbury (age nine) and Rush W. Marbury (age six).

For some reason, Thomas Jefferson Castellaw, another third great grandfather but on my paternal side, became the guardian of Pleasant H. Marbury (age 17) who was a brother of the other children.

Ben and Maggie Marbury

By the time of his marriage in 1868 to 15-year-old Maggie, Ben was 19.

While it would seem Ben was too young to fight in the Civil War which had just ended four years before his marriage, there was a B.F. Marbury who fought in the 11th regiment and a Benjamin Marbury who fought in the 16th regiment and both were from Tennessee so it's certain possible Ben was in the war at a very young age.

Ben and Maggie's first baby died just a week or so after birth.

After that, their family grew quickly and they added a new child almost every year. Wylie was born in 1871, Hardy (who would be the father of my great grandmother, Allie Marbury Brantley) in 1872, Rush in 1874, Robert in 1876, John in 1877, and Robert in 1879.

The family finally added a girl with the birth of Frances Catherine “Rosa” Marbury in 1884.

Unfortunately, that same year, whether of complications from childbirth or from a disease of some kind, Maggie died. She was only 31 and had given birth to eight children.

Ben married Mary Wilkins on March 4, 1884. She was a 34-year-old woman who lived with her parents and a house full of brothers and sisters in Haywood County, TN.

The marriage would be short-lived however as Ben himself died at some point in 1884. According to family stories, he was killed by a train while walking down tracks between Jones Station and Allen’s Station in Haywood Co., TN after having too much to drink.

What happened next? Did Mary continue to live on Ben's farm and raise his children? One could assume so since when she died in 1918 she was burried next to him.

There is certainly a lot more to research regarding this story but I do have one other photo that relates for now:

Photo from Betsy Sullivan Wadell

Allie Marbury Brantley with daughter, Virginia (my grandmother)
visiting Allie's aunt, Catherine Rosa Marbury Thomas, around 1936.
This photograph is of my grandmother Virginia Lovelace, who was Ben and Maggie’s great granddaughter, visiting her great aunt who was the last child of Ben and Maggie: Francis Catherine “Rosa” Marbury. My mother remembers her as being a large woman so I assume she is the older lady directly behind my grandmother. Aunt Rosa lived until 1956.

You can visit their pages on to find out more about the Marbury and Yelverton families.

1 comment:

  1. My gg aunt Susan Sherrod Sumner was living in the Samuel Yelverton house hold in the 1860 and 1870 Census. Her sister Mary Sherrod is my gg grandmother and she married Pleasant Bowman. I don't know how the Sherrod and Yelverton families are connected, but they are somehow.
    Thanks, Sonseeahray Allen LaPee (Soni)