My daughter, Kay, and I made a trip to Alabama with a primary goal of discovering if Nancy Buckner was the daughter of Anthony Edward and Mary King Foster or some other Nancy. There were a couple of details from the Marriage License Book at Blount County Courthouse that had not been present in other listings of the marriage. A transcription of the courthouse listing is below:
John signed his own bond, meaning he could write. Pliney Wilemon, who also signed the bond, was the husband of the oldest daughter of John and Rachel Buckner and an indicator that John, Jr. was their son.
Additionally, land record maps from a book we found at the Alabama History and Archives Museum showed that John and Rachel Buckner had adjoining land with Anthony Edward and Mary Foster during the middle 1850s, again supportive evidence that Nancy Foster and John and Rachel’s son John were neighbors and knew one another.
The 1855 marriage was for John Buckner, Jr.; the 1862 marriage was for John Buckner. The 1855 marriage had a signature while the 1862 marriage had only ‘his mark’ meaning he couldn’t write. Those two differences are strong indications the 1862 marriage was that of John Buckner, Sr. following the death of his wife, Rachel in 1860. The 1870 census lists Mary’s husband, John Buckner, as 62 although he was likely older than that. Some researchers have attributed this marriage to John Buckner, Jr. [had he been single, he would have been about 28]; those researchers compensated by assuming Nancy had died prior to 1862. For the following reasons, I believe that conclusion to be erroneous:
The Civil War documents for John Buckner, showing his death in Charleston, Tennessee September 12, 1862 with a widow’s claim by Nancy M. Buckner, also show the 1862 marriage had to have been the father’s.
The 1866 Fayette County census lists Nancy Buckner and her four children living in the vicinity of friends and family, including AE Foster, Joshua and Phoeby Watson. Phoeby Watson died October 1867 and Joshua and Nancy Buckner married December 1, 1868. By the 1870 census, Nancy and Joshua have a child, John B. Watson and her four Buckner children are also listed. Although the census taker recorded the oldest child with only the initials M.J. and as a 12-year-old male, I believe there is sufficient evidence to view that as a census enumerator error. The next child is listed on the following page as R. Buckner, also a 12-year-old male. The third child is S.M. Buckner who is listed as 11 and the fourth child is Nedora Buckner who was 9. The 1860 census for John and Nancy listed their three children as Mary (4), William (2) and Sarah (4/12).
There is an 1872 marriage listed for MJ Buckner to JF Willis in the home of Joshua Watson. The 1880 census shows Joshua and Nancy living in Holly Springs, Mississippi, although it lists all of the children living with them as Watsons. The names from this census shed light on the scanty names from the 1870 census: [Mary Jane has been married 8 years] the remaining children living at home are Rufus (22) [a later marriage of WR Buckner to MA Holliman performed by his brother-in-law, JF Willis, clarifies this name and relationship]; Sarah (20), Dora (18) and John (12). There are three more Watson children (ages 8, 6 and 2). All of these records show Nancy M. Foster Buckner Watson did not die in either 1859 or 1869 as some researchers have reported.
The 1880 census enumerator’s listing of Nancy Watson as a 60-year-old woman rather than a 42-year-old woman confuses the situation. Although it is possible Nancy died and Joshua remarried another older woman also named Nancy, the fact there is a two-year-old child listed makes me doubt the 60-year-old is his mother. Additionally, Sarah Buckner’s Fayette County marriage to William A. Newman on August 26, 1890 in the home of Mrs. N. Watson is certainly a clue she was still alive and had moved back to Fayette County and is likely buried near there, possibly in the Old Mount Lebanon Baptist Cemetery near her oldest daughter, Mary Jane and her son-in-law, JF Willis, who was the pastor there from 1888 to 1892 and again from 1895 to 1897.