Jasper & Francis: The widower marries a widow

A widower with children marries a widow with children. Many of these matches happened out of necessity. Both persons needed someone to help bear the burden of raising their children. Additional children often blessed the union. The death of a Civil War soldier often meant extreme poverty for his widow. A young widow turns to an older man for some relief. This could be the story for Jasper Williamson and his 2nd wife, Mary Francis Copeland Dean. I tell their story in this blog post.  

Born about 1818 in Georgia, Jasper M. Williamson, a farmer, married Mary A. Davis at Jackson County, Georgia, on April 10, 1842. [1]  The parents of both Jasper and Mary probably also lived in Jackson County.  Mary bore 3 children – Louvisa (1842), John Terrell (1846) and Francis ‘Frank’ (1849)- at Jackson county, Georgia prior to August 1850.[2]  An 1849 tax digest shows that Jasper owned 2 slaves and paid taxes of $1.17. [3] 

Jasper relocated his family to Smith county, Texas before the birth of their fourth child, Nancy, in 1852.  Three more children followed: Julius Leslie in October 1854, Mary ‘Mollie’ in 1857 and William Gallatin in March 1860. By September 1860, Jasper owned more land and 9 slaves ranging in age from 1 to 40 years. [4] Then tragedy struck.

Mary A. Davis Williamson died on September 22, 1865, age about 39 years.  [5] At least 5 of the 7 children – John, Frank, Julius, Mollie and Gallatin- survived their mother. Probate records also list “Heirs of Mrs. L. Turner,” presumed to be Louvisa.

In June 1866, less than a year after the death of his first wife, Jasper married again, to Mrs. Francis Dean.  [6]  According to 1860 census, Francis Dean was born about 1838 in Georgia.[7] She married first in September 1858 to T.W. Dean at Smith county, Texas. [8]  They were blessed with a son, James, in 1861.  T.W. joined the 14th Texas Infantry of the Confederate Army in March 1862. [9]  Presumably, T. W. died during the Civil War, leaving his widow with a son to raise. Did Mary Francis follow the mourning customs of the time?

Thus, Jasper, a widower, married a widow. In June 1868, Jasper and his new wife became the parents of Sammie Houston Williamson, my mother-in-law’s maternal great-grandmother.  

The blended family prospered as shown by real estate valued at $2550 and personal estate valued at $1954 by 1870.[10] However, Jasper again became a bereaved husband. Mary Francis Copeland Dean Williamson died between 1874 and 1880. According to the 1880 census, Jasper was a widower with 4 children: Gally, age 20, Sammie, age 13; Ida, age 12, and Annie, age 6. [11] Jasper, age 71, died in 1889 at Van Zandt County, Texas. [12]

PROCESS NOTES & DISCREPANCIES

Birth year of Mary Francis Copeland Dean – 1838 per 1860 census; 1844 per 1870 census.  If she was born in 1844, then she married first at the age 14 which is possible.

2011– found  1870 census for Jasper Williamson

2015 – found Death certificate for Sammie H. Reed. Names parents as Jasper Williamson & Mary Francis Copeland.

2017 – Found various records. 1880 census for Jasper Williamson. Marriage record for Jasper M. Williamson & Mrs. Francis Dean. Marriage record for T. W. Dean & Francis E. Copeland. Marriage record for Mary A. Davis & Jasper Williamson. Probate records for Mary A. Williamson (ca 1865-1867) and Jasper M. Williamson (1889).

2020 – Reviewed print and digital records. Updated research log for Jasper Williamson.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT CIVIL WAR WIDOWS AND MOURNING PRACTICES:

  “Civil War Widows” by Angela Esc Elder (https://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/civil-war-widows.html

Powerpoint presentation: “Widows of the Civil War South,” (https://www.slideshare.net/msleib/widows-of-the-civil-war-south )

REFLECTION

This post represents the culmination of work begun in 2011. Today, on an online tree, I saw an 1850 census record in Smith County, Texas for Alexander & Martha Copeland with a 10-year-old daughter named Francis. This record bears further evaluation. I believe that the story of Jasper and Mary Francis is more or less complete.

What I learned: Review all records and critically analyze. Keep research logs. Record ‘found date’ of all records. Records are not always found in a manner that exactly follows the chronological events in a person’s life.

What helped: print copies of some records in files. Research log for Jasper Williamson started in 2017. Reviewing all sources in 2020.

What didn’t help: Still updating citations and labelling files in mother-in-law’s tree. 

To-do: Continue following guidelines learned in Genealogy Do-Over as I update family trees. Keep BSO list to avoid getting side tracked.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2020


SOURCES:

[1] “Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978,” Marriages, Book A,B,C, 1805-1861, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for Jasper Williamson & Mary A Davis 1842; citing County Marriage Records, 1828–1978. The Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia; page 0289.

[2] 1850 U.S. Census, Jackson county, Georgia, population schedule, Subdivision 45, p. 12B, dwelling 181, family 181, Jasper M. Williamson age 30; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M432, roll 74.

[3] “Georgia, U.S. Property Tax Digests, 1793-1892,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 17 November 2020), entry for J M Williamson, line 13, no page number; citing Georgia Tax Digests [1890], Georgia Archives, Morrow, Georgia.

[4] 1860 U.S. Census, Smith county, Texas, slave schedule, Tyler, p. 68, column 1, lines 2-10; J. M. Williamson, slave owner; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M653.

[5] “Texas, Wills and Probate Records, 1833-1974 [,” digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed & printed 16 November 2020), entry for Mary A. Williamson, Dec’d.; citing Probate Packets, 1846-1900, Texas, Probate Court (Smith County); File No. 109, Box 112A.

[6] “Texas, Marriage Collection, 1814-1909, “ Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for Jasper Williamson & Mrs. Francis Dean, 1866; citing County Marriage Records.

[7] 1860 U.S. Census, Smith county, Texas, population schedule, Tyler, p. 166 (ink pen), dwelling 1143, family 1143, T W Dean; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 17 November 2020); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M653_1305.

[8] “Texas, Marriage Collection, 1814-1909, “ Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com  : viewed & downloaded 16 November 2020), entry for T.W. Dean and Francis E. Copeland, 9 September 1858; citing County Marriage Records.

[9] “Compiled Service Records of confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Texas,” Fold3 (https://www.fold3.com/image/13836091  : viewed 17 Nov 2020); citing  National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm Publication M323.

[10] 1870 U.S. Census, Smith County, Texas, pop. sch., Tyler, p. 406A (stamped), dwelling 239, family 239, Jasper Williamson (head); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 13 April 2011); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication M593_1605, image 422.

[11] 1880 U.S. Census, Smith County, Texas, pop. sch., J.P., enumeration district (ED) 095, p. 150D (stamped), dwelling 271, family 275, Jasper M. Williamson; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com  : accessed, downloaded, printed 2 April 2017); National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Microfilm publication T9, Roll 1326..

[12] Van Zandt County, Texas, Probate Case Files, Jasper M. Williamson; “Probate Packets 534-600, 1889-1895,” digital images, Texas County, District and Probate Courts, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed & downloaded 2 April 2017); Case Number: 545A.

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