Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

Double jeopardy.


Salisbury Truth, 23 April 1896.

I can’t say for absolute certain, but I am pretty sure that the lucky man was William Caswell “Cas” Brown (1871-1934), husband of Mary Caroline Miller, both of Steele township, Rowan County, North Carolina. If so, the couple married two days after Hint Chambers succumbed and the day before this blurb was published.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Virginia

Mary, Mary?

Mary Brown, born about 1849 in Amelia County, Virginia, married Graham Allen in Charles City County in 1876. She and Graham and their children appear together in the 1880, 1900 and 1910 censuses. Mary Allen, born in Amelia County to James Brown and Catherine Booker, died 1 April 1916 in Charles City County. Who, then, was the 30 year-old Mary Allen whose death Graham Allen reported on 8 December 1887 in Charles City County?

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Other Documents, Photographs, Virginia

Mary Brown Allen.

There’s a Mary Brown, age 20, listed in the 1870 census of Amelia County, Virginia. She worked as a laborer and shared her home with a 24 year-old man named Grief Bratcher. This is probably my great-great-grandmother.

Mary Brown Allen

Six years later, Mary Brown was in Charles City County, perhaps with a young daughter Nannie, and certainly pregnant. By a white man. A rape? A convenience? Love? We may never know. We do know, however, that just a few months into the pregnancy she married Graham Allen, a 24 year-old laborer from the other side of the James River in Prince George County. When she bore a son on Christmas, 1876, he was named John Christopher Allen. Over the next 40 years, Mary reared four children to adulthood (another four or five died), as well as some grandsons, while Graham farmed the small parcels of land he painstakingly accumulated and led a flock at New Vine Baptist Church. She never learned to read or write and left scant trace in the public record. Mary Brown Allen died April 1, 1916.

ImagePhotograph from the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

[UPDATE, 27 July 2015: As detailed here and here, DNA testing has led to the discovery of the father of Mary’s oldest son, John C. Allen, Sr. He was Edward C. Harrison of Charles City County.]