Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cyrona / Sarona / Sirona / Cyronie Marks

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Doing the research on Cyrona (rhymes with Verona) Marks was quite the whirlwind as each search brought forth a new way to spell her name. Which told me that the Census takers had some trouble deciphering it. I was very confused in the beginning of my search on her and was forever checking, rechecking and checking again to ensure it was the right Cyrona.

The name is a little unusual, even for today, and it seemed a bit unusual to the people of 1850/60 too, as the spelling was always different. I was unable to find the name at all on the 1850 Census for Fork (Eldorado) and only a few listings on the 1860 Census showed mostly children who had been born within the past five years. Only one name found was for a woman of age 23. The name just popped into existence (kinda like my third great grandfather, William Buck Marks) over the years between 1850 and 1860 with different variations, Cyrona, Cyrone, Cyronie, Sirona, and I wondered if Sophronia could also be a variant of the name. I was curious where my third great grandparents had found it. Some google searches on my part resulted in the following: 

Wikipedia says Sirona / Serona was a goddess worshipped predominantly in East Central Gaul - a region of present day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, Northern Italy, Netherlands, Germany (including Bavaria), Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania during the Iron Age.

Several ‘baby name’ websites returned the name Cyrona / Cirona as meaning “star.”

Namespedia.com said Cirona / Sirona is a surname used 95% of the time and only 5% is it used as a first name.

The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature says that Sirona is a name mentioned in Roman mythology designating a goddess in connection with Apollo Grannus. The most recent inscription discovered was by the side of a mineral spring at Nierstein, Germany, on the Rhine River, accordingly known as the Sirona Spring. Another inscription found in Grossbottwar, Wurttemberg, Germany, in stone, having both the names Apollo and Sirona, and dating from AD 201.

Cyrona seemed to be a name that might have originated in Germany. I was getting a bit excited at this point and sure enough, when I looked up Sirona on a map of Germany I found Sironastra├če (Sirona Street) right on the Rhine River in Nierstein, Germany. I could not help but wonder if my third great grandfather, William Buck Marks, was from this area, and was part of the German migration to America in the early 1800’s. German immigration to America began as early as 1709. Perhaps his parents or grandparents migrated to America in the 1700’s and he had heard the ancient stories of his homeland and named his daughter after an area he was familiar with.

google maps
Cyrona Marks is my third Great Aunt and the second daughter of William ‘Buck’ and Leah Caroline Fesperman Marks. She was born December 14, 1850. I first found her on the 1860 Census in Fork (Eldorado), Montgomery County. She had missed the 1850 Census by 2 months. She has one older sister, Jane (11), as well as one younger sister, Julia (7), and two younger brothers, Edward (5) and Thomas (2).

1850 Census
Search as I might, I was not able to find Cyrona on the 1870 Census. Instead, I found two new names, Mary and Martha. At first, I thought that maybe Cyrona and Jane were now going by their middle names. However, the 1860 Census lists the middle initial of each child. Cyrona’s middle initial is H and Jane’s is R. I compared the ages on the 1860 Census with the 1870 Census. Julia is listed on the 1870 Census as age 20 but is only 17. Cyrona listed as age 9 would be about 19 in 1870, and Jane listed as age 11 in 1860 would be about 22 now.

I believe Jane R married Lindsay Loflin (or someone else) prior to the 1870 Census so I was sure she should not be listed as living with her parents. Jane is covered in another Blog, Searching for clues on Jane R. Marks

So, who are Mary and Martha and furthermore, where are Edward and Thomas? Something seems very off here and many questions come to mind but no answers. I determined to revisit this one and do further research later.

As a note: Leah’s age shows 60, she is 47.

1870 Census
I continued with my search on Cyrona and found two marriage records for her. One dated Jun 11, 1869 and another dated Oct 17, 1869.

On June 11, 1869, Cyrona married J. K. Hamilton. Name of Minister is P. C. Callioott


On October 17, 1869, Cyrona married J. K. Hamilton again with N. W. Smart as the Minister. I found this a bit odd but, as I was not able to find any other information I have no reason why two weddings took place. I do now know for sure that Cyrona’s middle initial is H - which I believe is Henrietta, after her mother's sister, Henrietta "Hetty" Fesperman who married Pvt Green Carter (more on these two coming soon).

 J. K. Hamilton is Joseph K. Hamilton, born about 1844 in North Carolina to William and Mary (Polly) Morgan Hamilton. I first found him on the Montgomery County, North Carolina 1850 Census page 79, and dwelling 564. Cyrona is found on page 92, dwelling 663. While not close neighbors, they probably would have known one another as youngsters through church or other community activities. I see that Elizabeth Morgan, Mary’s mother, is living in this household so her husband has most likely passed away. Joseph has an older brother, Ira and an older sister, Susan. Baby sister, Palestine is 3.

1850 Census
 The year 1860 finds Joseph at age 16 and he, sister Polly (who is Palestine) and brother William are attending school. Grandmother Elizabeth looks to have passed away. A new brother, Lee, has been added to the family.

1860 Census
1880 finds the Hamilton family in Cabarrus County, Township 8, Reed, Misenheimers. Joseph and Cyrona have five children and Joseph is working in a Steam Mill. I imagine that the steam mill Joseph worked at was the Reed Misenheimers steam sawmill which operated in Cabarrus County around this time. Joseph and Cyrona have 5 children, Florina (9), Ulysses (7), Mary (5), Wesley (3) and Allen (1).

1880 Census
Between 1880 and 1900, the Hamilton family moved to Albemarle, Stanly County. Efird Manufacturing Co. opened its first mill in Albemarle in 1896. The industrial age was upon us and business was booming. My guess is that Joseph and his sons found work here and made the move. It certainly would have put them closer to other family in Montgomery County. I see that Cyrona states that she has had 11 children but only five are living. Mary (25), Adolphus (21), Aday (13), Richard (9). There are only nine children listed so 2 are missing. Mary is the only child that I see that was on the last Census and this one. Further research is required to determine which children have died.

1900 Census
By 1910, Cyrona listed as head of house as Joseph passed away on Jan 22, 1910 and buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Concord. The family has moved back to Cabarrus County. Cyrona is now working in a leather mill and two children, Richard (19) and Bertie (9) are still living at home. There is also a boarder by the name of Shake Doby.

1910 Census
In 1920 we find Cyrona still in Cabarrus County living in Concord at 128 Franklin Street with her son Richard. Cyrona is 69 years old and listed as a widow.
1920 Census
Cyrona H. Marks Hamilton died on Feb 22, 1922 and was buried next to her husband, Joseph, in Oakwood Cemetery, Concord, her name, misspelled throughout her entire life, once again, misspelled.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sometimes…you just get lucky – George A. and Mary E. Marks Thomas of Chatham County, NC

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Researching the Marks family of Chatham County, North Carolina is akin to chaos with all the William’s, James’, and Abner’s to try and sort out. It wasn’t enough that every male child was named William, James or Abner but the females grew up and married William’s, James’, and Abner’s; then suddenly changed their names to Sallie (for Sarah), Polly (for Mary), Dolly (for Dorothy) and Molly (for Margaret). So, it is like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack – but blindfolded. It is a long, tedious, and slow effort that only leaves you frustrated and scratching your head in the end because you can’t determine which William, James or Abner belongs to which generation or which Sally/Sarah, Mary/Polly, Dolly/Dorothy, or Molly/Margaret belongs to which William, James, or Abner. It’s just a tangled mess!

google images
That’s why I was so relieved when I came across Mary E. Marks and George A. Thomas. These two were like a breath of fresh air in a hot, muggy land. Every click of the mouse button obediently brought forth accurate and relevant information. Why can’t all our ancestors be so studious? To my knowledge, Mary remained a Mary throughout her entire life and never changed her name to Polly. After so many entanglements with William’s, Abner’s and James’, I am happy to search for the name George. Need I say more?

I don't yet know how George and Mary are related to me but someday I hope to find the connection between the Montgomery County, Stanly County and Chatham County Marks.

Mary is the daughter of William M. (1807-1880) and Sarah Gunter Marks (1811-1895). Mary was born abt. 1847 in Chatham County, North Carolina. I firmly believe that my William ‘Buck’ Marks is probably an uncle of Mary E. and belongs to the same generation as her father, William M. and perhaps one day I’ll find proof of it. But for now, let’s focus on George and Mary.

Little Mary E. Marks first appears at age 3 on the 1850 Census for Chatham, North Carolina, pg. 38. She is way down the list of brothers and sisters so I imagine she has to be quite demanding for any attention – especially now that a new little brother (named William, would we expect any less?) has been added to the family. Mary is 7th after big brother Abner (18) and 2nd after big brother James (9). This family wanted to make sure they had all the William's, James' and Abner's covered!

1850 Census Chatham, NC

Life looks to be going well for the Marks' family in 1850. William’s occupation is listed as farmer and his real estate value is $1100 ($33,150); this family is definitely middle class.

Personal and estate value - 1850 Census
By 1860, it looks like Mary’s big brother, Abner, has escaped parental oversight and is probably married and off making little William’s, James’ and Abner’s of his own for me to have to sort out. Or, perhaps he has joined the military as the Civil War (1861-1865) is nearly upon us. Malvina has also ‘flown the nest’ as she would be of a marriageable age by now too. It is surprising to see that younger brother William is missing. He should be sitting there between Mary E and Susan M at age 11. I will have to do some research to find out what happened to him. A younger sister has been added to the family, Susan, at age 7. With all the men preparing for war I am not surprised to see Louisa (26) and Lettitia (24) still at home. Malvina looks to have snatched up the last marriageable man. Mary is 12 and a pre-teen. She is just entering that awkward stage of wanting to be ‘grown up’ but still playing with dolls.

1860 Census
The 1870 Census gives us new information that the Marks family is located in New Hope, Chatham, North Carolina. New Hope is in the northern part of Chatham County, and right on the Haw River, which is a tributary of the Cape Fear River. Farming would have been the culture of the day and the land fertile. New Hope is still a rural area and farming and agriculture are still the main sources of income.


By 1870 the Civil War has ended and the country is in what will become known as the Reconstruction era – a rebuilding and reorganizing phase. A lot of men have died and the USA is struggling to enter into a new era of industrialization. Mary E. is still living with her parents and she is 23 years of age. Don’t let the new name of Martha throw you. This is probably Lettitia now going by her middle name or perhaps the wife of Thadeous. At any rate, it is 1870 and Mary E. is 3 years from her wedding day!

1870 Census New Hope, Chatham, NC, pg. 12
On a side note: the Census taker messed up Mary's name and wrote in ‘Mark’ rather than Mary. I always wonder what was going on for the Census taker to make a mistake. Did the dog start barking and distract him or perhaps the family was caught in the middle of a meal or on their way out the door and was in a rush? Yes, I actually do think like that!

google images

Like Mary, George A. Thomas is also awaiting his wedding day – he just doesn’t know it yet.

1850 finds George 9 years old and living with his parents, William C (1813-1900) and Sarah (Sally) Brewer (1818-1890) Thomas. George A. is second to the oldest and I am sure his wedding day is the farthest thing from his mind. The Thomas family lives in Lower Regiment, Chatham and I wonder if William Thomas and William Marks might know one another. Both men are listed as farmers and William Marks is just a few years older than William Thomas. Maybe they have done business together? Or met at the court house for some legal transaction? The families may have attended church together. I see Dolly (Dorothy), William C’s mother, is living with them.

William C’s real estate value is listed at $110 (about $3400) so this makes the family a lower class and I wonder if they are new to town, perhaps a part of the never ending Scots-Irish migrations from Pennsylvania and Virginia during that time period or just starting over after a bumpy road in life?

1850 Census Lower Regiment, Chatham, North Carolina, USA

Ten years have passed and 1860 finds George a young man at 19. He doesn’t have much life experience but is old enough to go to war. I am sure the family is worried as the Civil War is just about upon them. Grandma Dolly has passed away and William H who was 11 in 1850 would be 21 by now. He most likely has married and moved out on his own or may have joined the military. Since my focus is on George and Mary I will have to save that research for another time. Three more children have joined the family ranks, Wesley (8), Martha (5) and William D (4).

Just as a note, I do find it interesting that another child would be named the same as his older brother so, perhaps some unfortunate event has taken place and the older child, William H. has passed away and the younger child, William D. has been named in memory of his older brother.

1860 Census Middle Division, Chatham, North Carolina
The Thomas family has improved their standard of living by 1860 as father, William C, lists his real estate value at $600 ($16,900) and his personal worth at $525 ($14,800) and the boys, including 8 year old Wesley, are attending school and can read and write. Papa William C. understands the value of an education.

Personal and estate value
Three years have passed and Jan 22, 1873 finally arrives and with it the wedding of George A. Thomas and Mary E. Marks. The couple is united in matrimony at the home of William Marks with C.A. Boon, Minister, performing the wedding ceremony.

Marriage register for 1873
Marriage register for 1873

While doing the research on George A. Thomas I found the below photo of his parents, William C. and Sarah Brewer Thomas. There was no date on the photo but I wonder if it might have been taken at the wedding of George and Mary. I suppose we will never know.

William C and Sarah Brewer Thomas date unknown
(Shared by Ruth Thomas, Pittsboro, North Carolina, USA)

1880 brings us the happy news that George and Mary Marks Thomas have expanded their family to include two daughters, Ella, (6) and Minnie L., (3). George is listed as a farmer but the Census takers have stopped including personal income so I do not know what ‘class’ George and Mary are in. The Census does list where they live (Center, Chatham) so they have migrated west of the New Hope area; on the other side of the river, probably for work reasons.

1880 also brings with it the sad news that Mary’s father, William M, has passed away, so there is a funeral to attend this year.

1880 Census, Center, Chatham County, North Carolina
The 1890 Census records were destroyed by fire so I am not able to see where the Thomas family is at this time; we do know, however, that the next several years will be a very depressing time for George and Mary as they will each lose their parents. Double tragedy strikes as Ella, their oldest daughter, will die in Sep 1890 at the age of 16. George’s mother, Sarah Brewer Thomas, will pass away in 1890 as well and 5 years later in 1895, Mary will lose her mother, Sarah Gunter Marks.

Ella Thomas
Sarah Brewer Thomas

As if things could not get worse, the year 1900 brings the death of George’s father, William C.

William C Thomas
1900 also shows that George and Mary are still living in Chatham County. Minnie (23) is still living at home with her parents.

1900 Census, Chatham County, North Carolina

In 1902, just two years after the death of his father, George A. Thomas dies and is buried in the cemetery at Gum Springs Baptist Church, Chatham County. Sixteen years later his wife, Mary E. will join him.

George A Thomas

Mary E Marks Thomas

The Census of 1910 not only shows us that Minnie, youngest daughter of George and Mary, has married but it also shows us that she has three children of her own. She has been married for 6 years and she still continues to live on the Haw River, where she grew up.

1910 Census

Minnie lived to be 80 years old and is buried alongside her husband, parents and sister in Chatham County, NC.

Minnie L Thomas and husband Joseph Ray

Searching for Clues on Jane R. Marks

For updated research be sure to read the Blog, I found your daddy, William Buck Marks

Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth. -Arthur Conan Doyle

Searching for ancestors can lead to insanity if one is not willing to accept the truth once it is found. Sometimes, that truth is ugly and sometimes it is sweet. Either way, it is the truth and must be accepted as such. I have been on the hunt for my great-great-great-grandfather, William 'Buck' Marks, for quite some time now, but, it has only been in the past month that I have really focused one hundred percent of my attention on him and his family.

William Marks seems to have mysteriously dropped into Montgomery County, NC just as mysteriously as he left the place. There is no birth record, no death record, not even a grave to lay a flower upon. Granted, the court house in Montgomery County, NC burned down in 1835, and again in 1840, and many records were lost. But, by 1850 the good people of Montgomery County seemed to have figured out what the problem was and corrected it; so, records of my 3rd great grandparents should exist since it wasn't until close to 1850 that we find them together. At least that is the logical conclusion.

Montgomery County Court House
My hunt for William 'Buck' Marks has taken a very wide turn and I am now researching the Marks of Stanly, Chatham and Richmond Counties in North Carolina. There will be many more Blogs to come in regards to what I find. For now I am focusing my attention on the children of William and Leah.

The first child that we show a record for is Jane R. She shows up on the 1850 Montgomery County, NC Census. I am not sure what area of Montgomery County they are living in, as the 1850 Census does not say, but I imagine it is the Eldorado community as that is pretty much the same area where my Marks family has resided up to this day. William and Leah have been together for more than a year as Jane R is shown to be 1 year old.

1850 Census

Jane shows up again on the 1860 Census as 11 years old but disappears as magically as her father can by 1870.

1860 Census
However, there are two new names showing on the 1870 Census, Mary, 18 and Martha, 15. Both are listed with the last name Marks. I have my own theory about who Mary and Martha are and will be writing another Blog about them in the future. But, for now, back to Jane R.

1870 Census

I have two theories I am chasing on Jane.

Theory # 1 is that Jane died between the 1860 and 1870 Census of some dreaded disease that always seemed to afflict our ancestors and any clue of her death was destroyed by some happenstance, like flooding the area to build a lake. However, I am not able to find that there was a dreaded disease outbreak during that time or that there was another happenstance in the county at that time. I also had no good fortune in locating a grave for an 11 to 20 year old Jane R. She could perhaps be buried in an unmarked grave at Prospect Baptist Church on River Road, near the Eldorado community. It is believed that William and Leah are buried there in unmarked graves.

Theory # 2 is that Jane R grew up and married Lindsay Loflin between the 1860 and 1870 Census. I say this because while I was searching for the death of Jane Marks, my search instead returned a death certificate for a Mrs. Abie Hanes Davis. Jane Marks is listed as her mother and Lindsay Loflin is listed as her father. Abie's birth is listed as about 1879, making Jane about 29 years old when Abie was born. The dates fit.

Death certificate - Mrs. Abie Hanes Davis

So, I went back to the 1870 Census and sure enough, there was Lindsay and Jane with two little boys, Alexander, age 2 and Zebulon, age 6 months, living right down the road from William and Leah in Eldorado, Montgomery County.

1870 Census
Tracking them now became easy - it usually is when you have names. Mrs. Abie Hanes Davis is Abigal Loflin and is shown living with her parents on the 1880 Census in Rockford, Surry, North Carolina, United States. Alexander and Zebulon (Zeb) are right where they should be and we find more children as well. I won't spend time in this Blog researching the Loflin children as I am only interested right now in the children of William Marks. But, at some time in the future, I will find out more on each of the Loflin children and attempt to track down their descendants.

1880 Census

I went back to the 1860 Census to see if the Loflin family lived near the Marks family. Perhaps, Jane and Lindsay grew up together. There on page 11, just 7 pages from the Marks family, was the Loflin family showing a young Lindsay at age 14.

1860 Census

There is a possible third theory on Jane. It is not mine, but a family member who noticed this one. On the 1870 Census there is a Jane listed living with S.H. Hamilton. The age for Jane is correct and there is a strong possibility that this could also be our Jane R. More research must be done to either prove or disprove this third theory.

1870 Census

I have not as yet been able to pin down Jane's entire story. While looking for her grave I could only find a Rebecca Jane Loflin at findagrave.com. However, the person who did this research has Jane married to Burrell Loflin. I did search for Burrell Loflin and Jane Marks but found nothing other than this posting at findagrave.com.


I'll continue to search for Jane R. Marks - she is out there somewhere and she does have her own story to be told. Hopefully, someday, I will be able to tell it...

Note: images taken from google.com search engine, ancestry.com, findagrave.com, and familysearch.com

Who's your daddy, William 'Buck' Marks?

I've heard the story so many times now that I can repeat it in my sleep. William "Buck" Marks came from Chatham County into Montgomery County, on the Stanly County side, in the early 1800's. Legend says that he was hired to teach the Michael Fesperman children to read and write. Instead, he ran off with Michael Fesperman's  daughter, Leah Caroline, against her father's wishes, moved to the Uwharrie area of Montgomery County, where they had at least five children, and he died sometime before 1880. Leah was disowned and left only $5 in her father's will.

Note: Michael Fesperman Blog "The Little Dutchman" coming soon.
William ‘Buck’ Marks, my 3rd great-grandfather, seems to have left the county as mysteriously as he came in because there is not so much as a grave stone to place a flower on that I can find! This man magically showed up in Montgomery County, NC in 1850, swept his 'student' Leah off her feet, fathered five children, and then magically left or died sometime before the 1880 Census was taken.

The 20th day of Sept, 1850 is where I first find mention of my illusive 3rd great-grandparents, William ‘Buck’ Marks and Leah Caroline Fesperman. They are living in Montgomery County, NC and even though the Census taker, E.W. Woody forgot to write in the area, I know it is most likely near Eldorado because that is where most all the Marks’ lived. William is a shoemaker (not a teacher), 50 years old, born in NC about the year 1800, and he is listed as able to read and write.

Note: I do find it ironic that Leah, listed as age 27, born about 1823 in NC, cannot read or write, (that’s what the little mark / is for) since that is the reason William Marks was hired by Michael Fesperman in the first place, according to family legend. But, I digress.

At this point, I have learned that William and Leah have been together for at least 1 year and 9 months as they have a 1 year old daughter; Jane R. William is 23 years older than Leah. I have never found a marriage license. I do find it hard to believe that William, being 50, has never been married and has no children. It is also hard to accept that Leah at age 27 is not yet married with children of her own.

When I look at the ages of the other families living around William and Leah they all are between 25 and 50 and have been married with several children for several, if not many, years - not any different than today, I suppose. So, how does one get to be 50 and 27 and never married in the year 1850? It seems unheard of. And why would a father (Michael Fesperman) hire a 50 year old man to teach his 20-something year old daughter to read and write?

So many questions, not enough answers. It is why I have started this Blog. To, hopefully, get some answers. Taking my family legend to heart and giving the benefit of the doubt that William Marks was indeed hired by Michael Fesperman to educate his children, and that he is from Chatham County, NC (so many variables...) AND that he was an educator, I begin my search on the history of Chatham County schools between 1820 and 1850 in hopes of finding a listing of the first teachers in the county. Surely, if he taught in the first school houses of the state there would be a record for him.

Chatham’s first and best-known academy was the Pittsborough Academy, established by state charter in 1787, about the time William Marks was born, with the name persisting into the twentieth century. Other academies were begun at Haywood (1818), Rock Rest (1828, moved to Pittsborough in 1831 and called Kelvin), Tick Creek (1832, later Caldwell), Pleasant Hill (1838), and Cobia’s Select Female School (1839) near Pittsboro. [A Brief History of the Schools of Chatham County by Jane Pyle 2009]

The first public free school in North Carolina was opened on January 20, 1840 in Rockingham County. The school's first teacher was George W. Garrett, a large plantation owner who had gone to school at a military academy in Virginia. Mr. Garrett provided the land and the building for the first free school, with the agreement that he would be the teacher. Unfortunately, I can find no listing of the counties first school teachers so I am unable to verify the family legend on this route so, I move on to other sources.

Find a Grave is a great way to locate ancestors if you have a name. Of course, the database is only as good as the information that is loaded into it but I had to try a search. I found a William Thomas Marks in Chatham County whose occupation is listed as teacher on Find-a-Grave. But, this William was born in 1861 (Chatham County) and died in 1918 (Lee County). This William was too young to be my William being born 61 years too late.

William the teacher's father is listed as Abner Gunter Marks (1833-1915) and I see Abner's father is listed as William Marks from Chatham County (1807-1880), married to Sarah Gunter (1811-1895), Chatham County. Now, this William Marks would meet the criteria for my William except that he is already married, with children; and his wife did not die until 1895.

Chatham County is a good 60 miles from Montgomery County by today’s road system and even further from Stanly County. Travel would have been difficult between the two counties in the years 1850 (when my William showed up on the Montgomery County Census) and 1870, the last Census he can be found on. I do not imagine that folks made the trip a lot, if ever.  It was difficult enough just getting across the county to go to the court house to do your legal business.

Also, the graveyard where the Chatham County Marks are buried is located in Sanford, NC. And my William lives in the Eldorado community of the Uwharrie Mountains. So, I find it hard to believe that my William Marks led some kind of double life between the two counties. No, this is not my William Marks; however, I now have a new lead on a Marks family, with the right names in Chatham County and my William came from Chatham! Perhaps there is a link...a cousin, uncle, brother. I will continue to investigate the Chatham County Marks and see what I can find out.

For now though, back to Montgomery County and my William Marks.

The 1860 Census finds William and Leah in the Fork (Eldorado) community of Montgomery County. William is listed as age 65, born abt. 1795 (5 years older than the last Census). He is still a shoemaker and his personal estate is valued at $40 ($1126 in current money). It seems William has lost the ability to read and write over the last 10 years as the 1850 Census states that he can read and write. Leah is listed as age 37, born abt. 1823. That sounds about right. She still claims she is unable to read or write. Jane R is now 11 years old and has 2 sisters and 2 brothers and those old enough are attending school. All were born in NC.

The majority of their neighbors are listed as farmers with the last name Talbert. Two other families are also listed, Pierce (or maybe Purce) family are directly next door to William and Leah and are from Virginia. Hamblin (Hamlin) and Mary, age 75 and 67. The Levi Talbert family is directly on the other side.

I went back to the 1850 Census and rechecked the names of the neighbors as I did not recall the name Pierce or Purce listed. As suspected, the Pierce or Purce family is not listed on the 1850 Census. I tried to find out more about this family but am at a dead end. They seem to be new to town in 1860; a bit odd considering their age. Could Mary be William's sister? More research on this family is needed.

In 1850, at dwelling 654, also from Virginia, are John and Amelia Morris (also my ancestors and more on them in another blog). Perhaps the Pierce (or Purce) family are related to the Morris?

I have determined that William Marks was not a teacher, even though he may have claimed to be one. I have now turned my research to Shoemakers in Montgomery County, NC in the years 1850 and 1860; if William Marks did make shoes who bought them? Where did he purchase his materials from?  Was a receipt ever written out for the payment of shoes or items purchased to make shoes? 

As early as 1850, Census takers were asking North Carolinian's their occupations. William Marks listed his as shoemaker on both the 1850 and 1860 Census. In doing the research I found that the 1860 Census lists occupation as shoemaker 1,123 times across the state of North Carolina.

Montgomery County lists only 3 shoemakers on the 1850 Census and one retailer.

663/665 Marks, William age 50 male shoe maker born NC
712/714 Lacky, John age 32 male shoemaker born NC
787/789 Warbritton, Guilford age 21 male shoemaker born NC
710/712 Atkins, Thomas H. age 34 male retailer born NC

As William Marks was born about 1800 he would have learned how to make shoes the original way - by hand. The industrial age had not yet begun. He may have had a shop on his property or perhaps owned a shop in town. Perhaps he worked for someone else or had others work for him. Perhaps he trained the 2 younger men, John Lacky and Guilford Warbritton, in the art of shoe-making. Perhaps he sold his shoes to Thomas Atkins who is listed as a Retailer who could have resold them to the public.

Since I enjoy learning about new things, and I know nothing of how shoes were made in the early 1800s I wanted to see what I could find out. A good place to learn about how shoes were made before the industrial age (or anything else done back in the day) is Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. I visited there in 2008 and learned a lot about the life of our ancestors – how they lived, what they ate, what they wore, etc. and found it fascinating. It is true that necessity is the mother of invention.

Originally, a shoemaker (sometimes called cordwainers) made shoes one pair at a time. For most of history, shoe-making had been a handcraft, meaning it is time consuming and all done by hand. Traditional shoemakers used more than 15 different techniques of making shoes. I will spare you the next 10 paragraphs on shoes. (www.colonialwilliamsburg.com)

By the mid-1800's the sewing machine was invented and was being used for shoe-making; did William have to learn how to make shoes all over again? By the end of the 19th century (1800's), shoe-making was no longer a traditional handicraft. Shoe-making had been mostly mechanized, with production occurring in large factories and shoes being stored in large warehouses waiting to be sold. Textile mills were popping up everywhere and people were flocking to them for work.

1870 finds the Marks family still in the Eldorado community of Montgomery County, NC. However, there are two new names listed. Mary, age 18 and Martha, age 15.  Where are the two boys, Edward, who is 15 by now and Thomas who is 12? Jane and Cyrona are also missing. Perhaps these are the two girls just going by their middle names?  Once again, I am stumped and will have to dig deeper to find out who these girls are and what happened to the four missing children.

In 1873, Michael Fesperman, Leah's father, dies and on March 27, 1873 his sons, A.G. and P.A. Fesperman go to probate court to prove their father's will. Unfortunately, the will was hand written and not signed and the court would not prove it. So, the Fesperman sons had to request permission from the court to administer their father's estate and the court granted permission for such.

There, written in the court document, is Leah Marks, my 3rd great-grandmother, along with all her brothers and sisters, listed as rightful heirs to their father's estate. It would seem that the entire family had not disowned Leah. Her brothers and sisters had included her for an equal share and not just the $5 her father had left her in his handwritten will.

As far as I know William and Leah Fesperman Marks exited this life as mysteriously as they entered it - with little or no documentation about them. By the 1880 Census Leah is 58 and found living next to the Clay Morgan family in the Eldorado community of Montgomery County. Leah, now going by her middle name Caroline, is listed as widowed. William ‘Buck; Marks died sometime between the 1870 and 1880 Census.

I still don't know much about my 3rd great-grandparents, William and Leah Marks - but that is what this Blog is about - my hope is to, eventually connect to others who may have information that can help solve this puzzle.

The search continues...and a good place to start is with each of the Marks children.