Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Benjamin Williams and Mahala Watson

Genealogy can be pretty dry and reading legal documents can be tedious.  But every now and then we run across facts and can just imagine the emotions and conditions which led to the events.  But we will start at the very beginning.  May I introduce my great-great-great grandparents.  Sorry, there are no photos---those would be pretty rare for this class of people during the early 1800's.

Benjamin Williams and Mahala Watson were both born in Kentucky around 1810.  The first record we have is their marriage in 1827 in Hopkins, KY.

The 1830 census is more of a tally with only the "head of the household's" name.  There were 2 white adults between 20-29 (one male, one female) living in Benjamin's household.  I always like to see who else is on the page because there are often relatives.  William Williams was on the same page and in the same age range.  When we later found out his wife was Malinda Watson, we were pretty sure they were related through the husbands and/or the wives.  Carol Williams Huff found an obituary which showed that Malinda only had one daughter whose name was Mahala.  That is another indication that they were related---she might name her daughter for her sister.

The children started arriving by 1834 with Martha Williams (m. Matthew Harris), Polly Williams born in 1836 and Thomas Jefferson Williams in 1838. The next census in 1840 is still a tally with 1 boy under 5, 2 girls between 5-9 and 2 adults between 30-39 living in the household of Benjamin Williams.  Next door is living a Samuel Watson who was born around 1813, but we don't know if this was Mahala's brother, but he is likely a relative.

Three more children were born: 1841 Charles Washington Williams; 1843 Daniel Williams; 1845 James B. Williams.  Sometime around 1845-1846, their father Benjamin died.  Martha was married off in 1846, but Mahala still had 5 children to raise.

By the 1850, Union County census, Mahaley is found with only her 3 youngest children. We don't know what happened to Polly.  At 14, she could have been married but we can't find a record of her marriage,  but she could have died also.  Thanks to the hard work of Carol Huff Williams, Tom Stephens and some DNA tests to seal the deal, we do know what happened to Carol's ancestor Thomas Jefferson Williams.  He had been "bound" to Jonathan Foxwell to learn farming.  Court records (p. 146-147 11 Oct. 1847 Hopkins, KY) show that Thomas Jefferson and Charles Washington had been bound in 1847 as apprentices.
Commonwealth vs Williams.  Defendant appeared & ordered by the clerk of this Court do bind to Jonathan Foxwell, Farmer, Thomas J. Williams, orphan of Benjamin Williams, who will nine years old 24 Dec 1838 and that said clerk in Indenture the usual Covenant in such cases.  And it is further ordered that the clerk of this court do bind to George Waetzel, Sadler, Charles Washington Williams orphan of said Benjamin Williams dec'd aged 7 4 February next the usual covenant to be in Indenture of Apprenticeship.   Jonathan Foxwell to furnish Mrs Mahala Williams, who is poor, with the necessaries of life to the amount of $10. 

Prior to that, the court documents of May 11, 1847 Hopkins County Kentucky p 116 stated: "Ordered that a summons against Mahala Williams widow to shew cause why her children Polly, Thomas, Charles, James B and Daniel (all Williams) may not be bound according to law." This indicates that "binding" her oldest sons out was not something she wanted to do.

Mahala re-married in 1858 to Alfred Patten who apparently was a widower with a daughter.  By the 1860 census, the Patten family included just Daniel and James.  Alfred is listed as a black smith with Daniel and James as farmers.  James didn't have far to look for a spouse in a few years---they lived in the middle of several Pullam and Vaughn families one of which has his future bride Mary Ann.  But, Charles had gone to live with his older sister Martha and her husband Matthew Harris in the 1860 Union County census.  He married Jane Clayton in 1861.

Mahala was still alive in the 1870, Webster County census as was her husband Alfred Patten.  On that same page are several Watsons including Basil Watson, age 55, who could be a relative.  Neither Mahala nor Alfred appear in the 1880 census.  But before that, our family had the Civil War.

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