Catherine D. Brown Ellerbee Barker: The tie that binds

Ellerbee-Powell-Barker Blended families: Part 3

Blended families are not new or unique to the 20th century.  Genealogists regularly encounter men with sequential, multiple wives and women with sequential, multiple husbands.  Widows and widowers often married men and women with children from a previous marriage.  This series began with a  summary of one blended family in the Ellerbee family tree. Next, I told about James T.L. Powell and his 1st wife, Deborah A.C. Daniel. Now comes Catherine Brown, 2nd wife of James T.L. Powell and the tie that binds the Ellerbee and Barker families together.

red scarf bow

Tied Red Scarf.  Original photo by Susan Posten Ellerbee

PROFILE: Catherine Deborah Brown

Born:     19 November 1860, Mississippi (possibly Simpson county)[1]

Married:  22 March 1877 to James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas[2]

Died:     10 March 1944, Port Arthur, Jefferson county, Texas[3]

Buried: Mount Hope Cemetery, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas

Parents:  R.L. Brown & Marguerite Puckett (as named on her death certificate)


  1. Katherine Deborah Powell (18 August 1879, Cherokee county, Texas – 9 July 1959, Wells, Cherokee county, Texas)[4]. Married 27 January 1895[5] at Cherokee county, Texas to James Walter Ellerbee (7 December 1872 – 9 September 1942)[6], son of James John Ellerbee and his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Hays. Katie and Walter are my husband’s paternal great-grandparents. 6 children: Odie Lesley (1896-1958), Ernest Aver (1897-1951), Evie (1901-1994), Aver I (1906-1928), Ordra (1907-1987), and James Dreebon (1915-1973).  James Dreebon Ellerbee is my husband’s grandfather.  Their stories are for a later post.
  2. William Ball Powell. (19 February 1882, Cherokee county, Texas – 25 January 1960, Cherokee county, Texas).[7] Married about 1905 in Cherokee county, Texas to Maude F. Chumley (18 October 1888 – 22 March 1958), daughter of Tom Chumley and Frances Hagood. [8] William and Maude apparently divorced and Maude remarried to _____________ Conway.   William and Maude had 4 children: Thomas Otis (1906-      ); Madaline (28 March 1908 at Nacogdoches, Texas -27 May 1909)[9]; Muriel (1912 –      ) and Margaret Nancy (7 October 1915 – 25 October 1977), married  to Tommy Ford.[10]
  3. Jessie Powell (27 January 1889 -26 November 1959), [11]. Married 1st on 24 December 1905 at Cherokee county, Texas[12] to John Thomas Beasley (20 October 1873 – 29 March 1918)[13] . Married 2nd on 29 September 1918 to Robert C. Thames. [14] * ( 1873 – before 1930). Married 3rd between 1930 & 1940 to Gust Karl Beyers (25 November 1880, Germany – 25 October 1967,  Lufkin, Texas)[15].  Children: Mattie Beasley (1907 –      ); Alma Beasley (1909 –    ); Thomas Layfeet Beasley (1910 –     ); Homer Beasley (1912 –    ); Nettie Beasley (1914    –     ); Buford Beasley ( 1919 –     ); Harold Thames (1920 –     ).


Catherine’s life spans two centuries and eight decades. Modes of transportation changed from horse-drawn buggies  and wagons to motor cars. Wide availability of electricity markedly changed lives from candles to electric lights and wood stoves to ones powered by gas or electricity.  In-door plumbing generally made life easier.

June, 1870: 10-year-old Catherine Brown in Simpson county, Mississippi with presumed parents, W.P. and Mary J.  Brown.[16]  Her father probably fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War.

Between June 1870 & December 1872: Brown family relocated to Cherokee county, Texas.

March 1877:  17-year-old Catherine D. Brown married James T.L. Powell at Cherokee county, Texas. Her parents apparently moved to Texas.

August 1879: Birth of daughter, Katherine Deborah, in Cherokee county, Texas.

June 1880: James & 20-year-old Catherine in Cherokee county, Texas, with her stepsons, Alvey, 14;  J.M, age 12, and Peter, age 9 plus 9 month old daughter, D.C.

February 1882: Birth of son, William B. Powell in Cherokee county, Texas.

January 1889: Birth of daughter, Jessie Powell in Cherokee county, Texas

September 1890: James T.L. Powell dies at DeSoto Parish, Louisiana. He was probably visiting his son, Peter.  Catherine was now a widow with 3 young children.

September, 1892: Angelina county, Texas. Catherine Brown Powell married Elias Barker, a widower with six children.


Catherine Brown was a Southern girl through and through. Moving to Texas when she was 12 years old, she barely remembered Mississippi before the Civil War. Her daddy followed an oft traveled route from the devastated South to the promise of a better life in Texas.  They possibly lived close to James T.L. Powell, Deborah and their 3 children. In rural Texas, ‘close’ could mean within a mile or two. When she was 16 years old, Catherine married 41-year-old James, now a widower, and assumed care of his sons, now  6, 9 and 11 years old. James had given up teaching school to become a farmer.  The older boys married, began their own families and eventually moved to Louisiana. Three children of her own (Katherine, born 1879; William, born 1882; Jessie, born 1889) enriched Catherine’s life.  An event in Louisiana in 1890 had unforeseen consequences. Alvey Monroe Powell, James’ 1st grandchild, was born to Peter and his wife, Evelyn Spinks. A visit was certainly in order. Whether Catherine and their young children accompanied James is unknown. In September 1890, 65 year old James died in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, where he is buried.  Catherine, now 30 years old, became a widow with three young children. She endured for two years before marrying Elias Barker, a widower with 6 children.

Next in the series:   Elias Barker &  Catherine Brown Powell or Elias Barker & his first wife. To be published in January, 2020.



This is the 3rd  installment of my series about one set of blended families. I followed the outline started with the 2nd  installment – person profile, place in history, narrative story. I found this format on a webpage with scrapbooking ideas. The format helps me to be more concise and to write a more interesting story.

Earlier this year, a Brown family descendant contacted me. The person is a DNA match with my father—in-law. We traded ideas and information about the names of Catherine’s parents.

What I learned:  Writing a narrative that isn’t just reciting facts is challenging. I like the finished result.

What helped:  Previous completed research on the family.

What didn’t help:  Waiting until the last minute to begin the post.  Incomplete research logs and copying of information to RootsMagic tree on my computer.

To-do:  Update information about William Ball Powell and Jessie Powell on home computer.  Create research logs.  BSO for later—follow descendants of William Ball Powell and Jessie Powell.


[1] Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed & downloaded 9 November 2017); citing Texas Department of State Health Services, “Texas Death Certificates, 1903-1982”, Austin, Texas.

[2] “Texas Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (  : accessed 9 December 2019); entry for J.T.L. Powell and Catherine Brown, 19 April 1877, Cherokee county, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[3] Jefferson county, Texas, death certificates, death certificate #14269 (1944), Mrs. Catherine Barker, 8 March 1944.

[4] Cherokee county, Texas, certificate no. 36955, Katherine Deborah Ellerbee, 9 July 1959; digital images, Fold 3 (  : viewed, printed, downloaded 4 October 2019); citing Texas Department of Health, Austin, Texas.

[5]. Texas Marriage Index, 1824-2014,” database, Ancestry (  : accessed 9 December 2019); entry for Katie Powell  and Walter Ellerbee, 27 Jan 1895,  Cherokee county, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[6]. Cherokee county, Texas, Texas, Death certificates,1903-1982, certificate no. 39161, J.W. Ellerbee, 9 September 1942; digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed & downloaded 26 September 2019); citing Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

[7] Find A Grave, database and images (  : viewed 12 November 2019), memorial page for William B. Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 91355097, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas), memorial created by Wanda Karr Ellerbee, photograph by Wanda Karr Ellerbee.

[8] Bexar county, Texas, Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982, certificate no. 13386, Maude Chumley Conway, 22 March 1958; digital images, Ancestry (  : viewed & printed 12 November 2019); Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[9] Find A Grave, database and images (  : accessed & printed 11 October 2019), memorial page for Madaline Powell, Find A Grave Memorial # 103081400, citing Mount Hope Cemetery (Wells, Cherokee, Texas).

[10] “U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database, Ancestry (  : accessed & printed 12 November 2019), entry for Margaret Nancy Powell Ford; citing Social Security Applications and Claims, 1936-2007.

[11]  “Texas Deaths, 1890-1976,” digital images, Family Search (     : accessed, printed, downloaded 11 October 2019), entry for Jessie Byers, daughter of Tom Powell and Kathryn Brown; citing State Registrar Office, Austin, Texas; Vol. 132, certificates 065501-066000,Nov-Dec, Wheeler_-Bexar counties.

[12]  “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,”  database, Ancestry (  : accessed 12 November 2019; entry for J.T. Beasley and Jessie Powell, Cherokee county, Texas.

[13]  “Texas, Death Certificates, 1903-1982,” database with images, Ancestry (  : accessed 12 November 2019); entry for John Thomas Beasley, died 29 March 1918, Wells, Cherokee, Texas; citing Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin, Texas.

[14]  “Texas, Select County Marriage Index, 1837-1965,”  database, Ancestry (  : accessed 12 November 2019; entry for Jessie Beasley and R.C. Thomes,  Cherokee county, Texas.

[15]  Find A Grave, database and images (  : accessed and printed 11 October  2019), memorial page for Gust Karl Beyers, Find A Grave memorial no.69403504, citing IOOF Lufkin Cemetery, Lufkin, Angelina, Texas.

[16] 1870 census Catherine. 1870 U.S. Census, Simpson county, Mississippi, population schedule, Beat 1, p. 266A, family 486, Catherine Brown age 10; digital images, Ancestry (  : accessed & printed 23 January 2016); citing National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, D.C. microfilm publication M593_748.

© Susan Posten Ellerbee and Posting Family Roots blog, 2019