52 Ancestors #9 – Mary A. King Foster

My great-great-great-grandmother, Mary A. King Foster, and I share a birthday; according to her headstone, she was born June 22, 1813, 127 years before me. I know very little about about her.  Mostly what I have learned came from two census records (1860 and 1870) and her headstone. Anthony Edward & Mary King Foster headstoneOn a trip to Alabama in 2010, we found the ordination record for her husband Anthony Foster showing he was ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church in January 1853 while they resided in Blount County, Alabama. I also found a land map that showed the location of their farm acreage in Blount County. Of course, neither of those records listed her name but her status as wife allowed to me assume her residence in that location as well as to infer a religious background. The headstone is placed at Mount Vernon Methodist Church Cemetery in Fayette County, Alabama, which would also support the inference of her religious affiliation.

Although her marriage date is given on her headstone, I have not found a marriage record to support that information. It would appear to be a reasonable date since their oldest child was born in 1835.

Very little information is provided in either the 1860 or 1870 census records, particularly for a non head of household. Although there are names of children listed in the household, no relationships are noted so one can only assume they may be children of the two adults enumerated together. The Blount County, Alabama 1860 census lists Mary Foster (44) born in Alabama while the Fayette County, Alabama 1870 census lists M.M. Foster (55) born in South Carolina.

Mary’s headstone lists her death date as December 8, 1872. That had been totally confusing because there was a marriage record for Anthony E. Foster and Mrs. Louisa Edwards for November 28, 1872, ten days before she died. I finally found an obituary for Mary that solved the problem. Her obituary appeared in the February 17, 1872 issue [ten months before Anthony remarried] of the Nashville Christian Advocate, a periodical for the Methodist church. Although quite short, it did provide some information I did not have, including a death date; it said, “MARY FOSTER d/o James and Rachel King; w/o Rev. Anthony Foster, born Spartanburg Dist., S.C. 1815; died near Fayette Court House, Ala. Dec. 8, 1871; mother of twelve children.”

Although the birth year is given as 1815, in handwriting, many times a ‘5’ and a ‘3’ can be difficult to determine; consequently, the date on her headstone may or may not be correct. With census records almost always showing great diversity in ages from decade to decade, the 1860 and 1870 ages of 44 and 55, might indicate the 1815 date as more supportable.

I have as yet been unable to locate information on her parents although, thanks to the obituary, I now have their names. From the two census records and reports of Bible records of births, I also have the names of all twelve of her children.

Combining information from the records I have thus far, I now assume Mary was born in the Spartanburg District of South Carolina on June 22, 1815 and died in Fayette County, Alabama on December 8, 1871 having lived only 56 years but as the mother of 12 children and grandmother to many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


This blog was prepared as a part of Amy Johnson Crow’s  No Story Too Small 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.

Celebrating a 219th Anniversary

Today, July 1, 2013, is the 219th anniversary of the marriage of my 5th great-grandparents, William Berry Blackstock, Jr. and Mary ‘Polly’ Bobo. According to the U. S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900, they were married July 1, 1794.

I don’t know about you, but I find it amazing that we can find any records at all about people who lived more than 200 years ago. This country is relatively young and many of our earliest settlers couldn’t read or write and yet, those who could, recorded momentous occasions – births, deaths and marriages in family Bibles, and land transactions, probate documents, civil and criminal documents at courthouses – and so, we sometimes find documents from which we can discover and/or infer bits and pieces of their lives.

The Blackstocks  owned a plantation in Union County, South Carolina, which I learned was a Revolutionary War battle site called the Battle of Blackstock’s Plantation. My daughter and I made a research trip to South Carolina in June 2012. The specific dates for the trip were planned around a family reunion held by some Miles descendants – I have no direct line Miles ancestors – just that my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Mary Foster, married a Miles and then my great-grandfather’s half-brother’s widow, Mary Priscilla Middleton Willis, married the same Miles man after they both were widowed in the early 1860s – additionally, the elder Miles was a local minister who had married several of my extended family members.

The reunion planners had scheduled several speakers and visits that tied directly into our research wants and needs and made joining them a great benefit. One of the scheduled activities was a visit to the Blackstock Plantation with a speaker from the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism department who currently own the land.

???????????????????????????????The park ranger, who came out on a Sunday morning, talked to us about the family and the battle and the impact on the ultimate outcome on the Revolution. There are a number of websites with information on this Battle; I have provided one link for anyone with an interest.

As a result of that reunion we got quotes from a letter written by L. [Landon] Miles to Dr. J. H. Logan on August 11, 1858 and published in the Thomas Sumpter Papers of the Draper Manuscripts. Two of his recollections were pertinent to my Blackstock ancestors:

Miles says he was born Feb. 1, 1782 – born and raised within 3 miles of Blackstock’s and still lives there. “I went to see Old Blackstock’s when I was a boy. He was an old Irishman when the British & Torys camped at his house or nearby, he used to pilot them to my father’s to rob & plunder… I have heard my mother say all the way she could keep anything to eat was to put it in a jar in the jamb of the house and cover it with ashes. They would pass it for an ash can. The Tories would strip beds and take everything they or their horses could use at their camps.”

He also wrote that “Old Man Blackstock’s son in time of the war married into a Tory family. The old man was opposed to it – the wedding was at my grandmother Farrow’s. It was a run away match. Old Blackstock’s was in pursuit and came up while Squire Ford was marrying them & cutting short his ceremony said, ‘I now pronounce you man & wife.’ Blackstock heard it ad howled out ‘I pronounce it a damed lie.’ Came up very angry. He said the Tories had left him nothing but his old red jacket and they might have that – & pulled it off, & stamped on it & swore that they might have it too.”

One of the stories I heard from the ranger that day and have also seen written was the account that Mrs. Blackstock (apparently the younger because there were several small children around her and the older Mrs. Blackstock was past childbearing years), was out in the field telling Banastre Tarlton that she forbade him to fight on her property. Her husband, William the younger, was serving with Col. Roebuck’s unit and was away at the time of the Battle.

We can infer from that story as well as William’s age of 30 that he had been married before he married Mary “Polly” Bobo since the battle took place in 1780 and they didn’t marry until 1794. There are some family trees that list his wife’s maiden name as Yarbrough. Since other Blackstock siblings married into the Yarbrough family, it is not unreasonable to assume that his first wife was, in fact, Mary Yarbrough; to date, I have not found supportive documentation. My daughter got DNA samples from my son and grandson for autosomal testing through Ancestry.com. We have had several matches that would appear to have come through the Bobo line and, thus far, this is the only direct line Bobo I’ve found.

A slight digression would be to say my daddy bought a marvelous blonde Cocker Spaniel puppy for us in 1955 or 1956 that he named Bobo. At the time it merely seemed like a reasonable name for a pet but once I started doing research on daddy’s family in Fayette County, Alabama I discovered many of his neighbors’ surnames were Bobo and though there were some marriages between aunts, uncles or cousins, there weren’t any Bobos in my direct line. What a pleasant surprise to find that the name Bobo that daddy chose as a pet name was actually a direct line surname by the time I arrived at my 5th great-grandmother.

Once the reunion was over, we began the research portion of our trip and headed over to Columbia where the South Carolina Archives are housed. We found William Blackstock’s will. In spite of the fact he apparently had children from his first marriage, he only mentions the two daughters born in his marriage to Mary Bobo. I have been unsuccessful to date in locating information on those earlier children; consequently, it is difficult to know if they were omitted because they predeceased him, or if they had quarreled, or moved away and had not stayed in contact with him.

William Blackstock 1841 will webSince the daughters were the only ones mentioned, it is presumed that his wife had predeceased him. Both daughters were married and are identified in the will by their married names: Mary Pool and Jane Foster. George Pool is named Executor and Jane Foster (my 4th great-grandmother) is named Executrix and the property was to be divided equally between the daughters after his debts and funeral expenses were paid.

One of the benefits of the will is that my daughter gained another signature for her signature file. The signature tells us two things about him – he could write and his control of his hand was shaky – quite logical since in 1841 he was 91 years old.

Information on my Blackstock/Bobo ancestors is spotty and, thus far, not very thoroughly documented. I would love to hear from anyone from either family who could add to my knowledge and documentation base for them.

Anthony Edward Foster – 198th Anniversary of His Birth

Today is the 198th anniversary of the birth of Anthony Edward Foster who was my 3rd great-grandfather. Anthony was born in the Spartanburg District of South Carolina on November 18, 1814 to Archilles K. and Jane Blackstock Foster. After the trip my daughter and I made this summer, we know the Fosters, Blackstocks, Bobos, Ballengers, Yarbroughs and Miles all lived in the vicinity of Cross Anchors and surrounding communities near the juxtaposition of Spartanburg, Union and Lauren counties. Those surnames being together have importance in that some of each of those families moved from South Carolina to Georgia to Fayette County, Alabama in the 1830s to 1840s and continued to interact as neighbors (and ancestors to me) in a new location.

While we were in South Carolina, Kay and I were able to visit the burial location for Anthony’s grandparents, Anthony and Sarah Golding Foster, which was on their land, and is currently right beside the two-lane highway for the area. There are only three graves there – the third being Anthony’s uncle Golding Tinsley. His parents, Archilles K and Jane Blackstock moved to Georgia and then to Alabama and their burial locations are as yet unidentified.


We also visited the site where Jane’s grandparents and parents lived – the Blackstock Plantation where one of the Revolutionary War battles took place, which is probably two to three miles away, as the crow flies, although there is no direct access from the Foster place to the Blackstock place. Tradition says the Blackstocks are buried on the plantation but no markers remain.


Anthony Edward and his parents and brother, William E., moved to Hall County, Georgia sometime before his sister Polly was born in 1818. On the 28th of February 1834, Anthony married Mary King, daughter of James and Rachel King, and shortly thereafter they moved to Alabama – they were enumerated in the 1840 census in Saint Clair County as was his brother-in-law, also Anthony Foster, and his sister, Polly. By the 1840 census, they had three children: Anthony Edward Foster, Jr., born May 9, 1835 in Alabama; Sarah M. Foster born August 9, 1936 and my great-great-grandmother, Nancy M. Foster, on July 2, 1838.

I have been unable to locate an 1850 census for them, although a Foster family website states: “Anthony Edward Foster’s name appears in several records in Fayette County.  In 1850, he was listed in the census as head of household (Volume II, p. 14).” I have scrolled through every page of the Fayette County census for 1850 and was unable to locate a listing for him. I have also searched every page of the Saint Clair County and Blount County censuses as well and still have not seen one. None of the census pages on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.com are labeled as Volume/Page, but are rather listed by District or Beats and Divisions.

Between 1840 and 1850 more children were added to the Foster household: John W on March 14, 1840; Ellen V. on February 25, 1842; Mary M.or A. on October 1, 1843; James Monroe on July 20, 1845; and William Rkeles on October 18, 1847. As was the case for many of our ancestors, they lost children to early death. Their son, John, born in 1840, died May 6, 1841 – just over 13 months old.

The family relocated to Blount County sometime between 1840 and 1850.a Foster family website states about Anthony Edward: “He was a Circuit Rider Methodist Minister in the Fayette County, Alabama,* area.  He would ride his horse with his Bible in the saddle bag to rural churches to preach on weekends.  The Methodist Library at Birmingham Southern College, Birmingham, Alabama, was researched for information about his ministry.  No records were found of Anthony Edward Foster; however, there were no records of any Circuit Rider Ministers.  It is assumed that Circuit Riders were not included in the Methodist Church District proceedings in those days.” Although this researcher apparently did not find documentation to support the story tradition that Anthony was a Methodist minister,on our 2010 trip to Blount county, we found his1853 ordination papers filed at the courthouse.


When I created a database of Alabama marriages, i listed the names of the officiating person, if listed. In doing so, I found many couples who were married by Anthony Edward Foster.

I found a website with Blount County plat maps, one of which shows the Foster’s land to be one farm away from the farm of the John Buckner family. This was an important piece of information since I had found it difficult to determine which Nancy had married John Foster, Jr. on Apr 1, 1855. I have cropped the pertinent section to make it easier to see their proximity – Anthony Foster’s land is in spring green almost in the center and John Buckner’s land is gray and catty-corner down to the left [Anthony’s brother, Riley Bidemous Foster, has land that abuts John Buckner’s as well as another plot to the center right (in pink)]:

ImageIn the 1850’s, another four children were added to the family, making a total of twelve: Rachael Jane on January 4, 1851; Frances Narcissa on December 28, 1852; Vienna Termelsa on December 1, 1856; and Simpson Bobo on March 5, 1858 – Simpson only lived about seven weeks, dying on June 28, 1858.

During these same years, some of their children came of age and married, as mentioned earlier, my grandmother Nancy in 1855; Ellen V. married Josiah Anderson on November 3, 1858. I have so far been unable to track either Anthony Edward Junior or Sarah to adulthood.

Their first known grandchild was my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner, born on January 20, 1856. Additional grandchildren were William Rufus Buckner born in March 1858, Sarah M. ‘Sallie’ Buckner in March 1859, and Medora Buckner in June 1860.

On March 1, 1860, Anthony purchased 78.47 acres of land while he was still a resident of Blount County.


The 1860 census, enumerated effective June 1, lists the family in Fayette County: Anthony and Mary and the children from Mary to Vienna:


Their daughter, Mary married William Leander Miles on January 7, 1861.Ellen and Josiah provided Anthony and Mary with another grandchild, William Anderson born on June 7, 1861 followed by daughter Mary and William Miles bringing granddaughter Mary Frances Miles into the world on June 29, 1862.

By 1862 the world in Alabama was changing drastically as the Civil War became a reality. Their son-in-laws, Josiah Anderson and John Buckner, joined with many of the young men of Fayette County and enlisted in the Confederate Army’s 41st Infantry in Captain Abernathy’s unit – Josiah on May 30 and John the day after Mary Frances was born, June 30. John died in Tennessee on September 18, 1862 and Josiah died in Atlanta, Georgia on November 1 – Anthony and Mary’s daughter, Nancy, was a widow with four children and Ellen was a widow with one son.

Mary and William Miles  had another daughter, Melissa Jane ‘Mollie’, on May 30, 1866 and their daughter Mary died less than six weeks later on July 6.Son William Rkeles married Rebecca Moore on November 15, 1866. Daughter Ellen remarried to Benjamin McClure in 1867, William and Rebecca had a son, William Thomas in 1867 and Nancy married her recently widowed neighbor, Joshua Watson, on January 12, 1868.Anthony and Mary’s son, James Monroe married Martha Mary ‘Louiza’ Thompson on February 6, 1868 and Rachel Jane married John Whitt Dodson, also in 1868.

Although Benjamin and Ellen did not have more children, Joshua and Nancy did; their son Joshua Watson was born November 4, 1868, followed by James and Louiza’s son, Orlando Jefferson born December 8, 1868.

Frances Narcissa married Francis W. McClure on January 26, 1869. William and Rebecca had Virginia Idella Foster on  April 29, 1869 and James and Louiza had daughter, Ellen Eolysta on October 13, 1870.

The 1870 census shows a bit of the changing dynamics of their family. Anthony and Mary had two daughters still at home – Rachael Jane and Vienna Termelsa – and they also had their granddaughters, Mary Frances and Melissa Miles, living with them. The Civil War had also been responsible for the death of my great-grandfather James Franklin Willis’ half-brother, Jabez G. Willis, and his widow Mary Priscilla Middleton Willis had married Mary Foster Miles’ widower, William Leander Miles and most censuses continued to show Mary Frances and Melissa living with family members other than their father and Mary Priscilla.


Mary King Foster died on December 8, 1871. An obituary was provided to the Nashville Christian Advocate, a Methodist periodical that appeared February 17, 1872; it said: ” MARY FOSTER d/o James and Rachel King; w/o Rev. Anthony Foster, born Spartanburg Dist., S.C. 1815; died near Fayette Court House, Ala. Dec. 8, 1871; mother of twelve children.”

It has long been a confusing issue that Mary’s death date on her head stone is December 8, 1872 yet Anthony Edward remarried Louisa J. Edwards on November 28, 1872 – two weeks before Mary’s death. Everyone recognized a problem but had no good answers for the discrepancy. As I was putting this together, I noticed the obituary appeared ten months before her listed 1872 death – the logical answer to this issue is that Mary died in December 1871 rather than 1872; by the time the magazine could be published with her obituary it was the middle of February 1872.

More grandchildren arrived during the 1870s:

Oliver Foster was born in 1871 to William Rkeles and Rebecca; William Columbus ‘Willie’ McClure was born in July 1871 to Francis and Frances Narcissa McClure; Mary Myrtle ‘Molly’ Foster born December 18, 1872 to James Monroe and Martha ‘Mary’ Louiza; Frances Etta Watson was born April 1, 1872 to Nancy and Joshua Watson; Mary Annie Foster born in 1874 to William Rkeles and Rebecca; Mary ‘Mollie’ Nancy McClure November 9, 1874 born to Francis and Frances Narcissa McClure; Maca ‘Mackie’ Jane Foster was born May 1876 to William Rkeles and Rebecca; John Anthony Foster born August 1, 1876 to James Monroe and Martha ‘Mary’ Louiza; Walter William Watson born in 1876 to Nancy and Joshua Watson; Gwen Victoria ‘Babe’ McClure born in 1878 to Francis and Frances Narcissa McClure; Daugherty Watson born in 1879 to Nancy and Joshua Watson;

And another marriage – Vienna married C. M. Moore in March 1871. In addition, Anthony Edward and his new wife, Louiza, added two more children to the original twelve siblings: Livingston A. Foster born March 16, 1874 and Cena E.Foster born on May 15, 1875. In addition, their first grandchild, my great-grandmother, Mary Jane Buckner, married James Franklin Willis on July 14, 1872 in the home of her mother and stepfather, Nancy and Joshua Watson.

Great-grandchildren born during the decade of the 1870s were: Zelda Willis in 1873; Margaretta Willis in 1874; John William Willis in 1877; and Rufus Braxton Willis in 1878.

The decade of the 1880s brought more grandchildren: Maggie Foster was born March 4, 1880 to James Monroe and Mary Louiza; James A. Cameron Watson was born after the 1880 census to Nancy and Joshua Watson; John Winston McClure was born May 28, 1881 to Francis and Frances McClure; Effie was born to Vienna and Cornelius Moore in 1881; Elbert Lee Dodson was born September 19, 1881 to Rachel Jane and John Whitt Dodson; Mattie Tiercy Foster was born January 30, 1883 to James Monroe and Mary Louiza; Mary was born to Vienna and Cornelius Moore in 1883; and Dora Alice Foster was born September 15, 1885 to James Monroe and Mary Louiza.

There were also more great-grandchildren: my grandfather, Zedic Hamilton Willis born in 1881, and Thomas Richard Willis in 1883. Their second grandson, William Rufus Buckner married A. J. Collins on April 1, 1883 and produced three more great-grandchildren:  John Howard Buckner in 1884; an as-yet-unidentified great-granddaughter born about 1885, and Guy Sylvester Buckner born in 1889 after Anthony Edward’s death.

On October 7, 1885, Anthony Edward Foster died. He was buried next to his wife, Mary, at Mount Vernon Methodist Cemetery.


Even though both Anthony Edward and Mary King Foster were dead, the generations continued: James Horace Dodson was born March 15, 1886 to Rachel Jane and John Whitt Dodson and Zada Foster was born to James Monroe and Mary Louiza on September 12, 1888. And, of course, many of those grandchildren married and produced more great-grandchildren – and the family goes on and on.

The Joy of the Hunt

It’s a good thing I enjoy solving puzzles and tracking down minute details because that is clearly what it takes to answer questions of family history and lineage. There are any number of difficulties or crazinesses in historical records that can stymie a search. Problems as seemingly insignificant as spelling and penmanship; or use of first names, middle names and nicknames in censuses from one year to the next; or moving from location to location; or misrepresented birth dates/ages can make the search more difficult.

I’ve been searching for information on my great-grandmother’s brother, William Rufus Buckner, off and on for a couple of years. I’ve had a particularly difficult time finding information on him even though I’d discovered him early on in Wise County, Texas in the 1910 census. Because Ancestry.com searches broadly in terms of surnames, ages and locations, you can sometimes find records you wouldn’t otherwise pick up. On the other hand, because it’s so broad you often have too many to take the time to look through. Heritage Quest searches way too specifically [not even an option for a wildcard] and there is no way to account for those flukes in spelling, age or location other than in specific searches, many of which you could not even hazard a guess.

What I had learned about William Rufus Buckner during the past couple of years from multiple sources was:

He was born in about 1858 as the second child of John and Nancy M. Foster Buckner [as to the search for verification as to who Nancy was, see previous blogs on Surname Saturday – Buckner nee Foster and Follow Up Buckner nee Foster.

1860 census for John & Nancy Buckner and Mary, William and Sarah

His father had joined Company I of the 41stAlabama Infantry and died in Tennessee as a result of illness. Some men have 12 and more status cards in their files while John only has five, one of which is made out for James, but since the information is generally the same as that for John, the archival people have filed it with John. Even the cards have differing information on them; two (one Jno, usual abbreviation for John, and one Jas) indicate he died September 18, 1862 while one (John) states September 12, 1862, although all three have the location as Charleston, Tennessee. A transcription of a card that is not visible on Footnote is available at the Alabama Department of Archives and History website shows Nancy filed for a widow’s pension. There was a similar notation on the card for John’s brother, Jesse W. Buckner, that John Buckner, father, had filed a claim (which had been mailed to Blount County). BH Williams was the probate judge for Fayette County at the time, presumably a copy of the documentation would have been at the courthouse had it not burned. I had hoped to see application papers when we visited, but nothing was available, apparently both claims for monetary support were denied, perhaps because both deaths were from illness rather than battle injuries.At the time of the 1866 Alabama Census, he and his mother and three siblings [Mary Jane, Sarah and Medora] lived in the vicinity of his grandparents [Anthony Edward and Mary King Foster]; uncle, Anthony Edward Foster; future brother-in-law, James Franklin Willis; and long-time neighbor Joshua Watson and his family. A website listing Fayette County marriages listed a marriage for Nancy Buckner to Joshua Watson in 1868 and cemetery records confirmed the death of his wife Phoebe in 1867. The 1870 census listed Joshua and Nancy and four Buckner children plus their first child, John B. Watson. As usual, there was a dilemma with that record. Mary Jane, who would have been a 14-year-old female at the time, was listed as M.J., a 12-year-old male, but since Mary Jane married two years later in the home of Joshua Watson, there did seem to be a connection between them.

1870 Census, Joshua & Nancy Watson with John B. Watson, M.J., R., S.M. & Nedora Buckner

I had a difficult time finding any record on the family for quite some time, but eventually found a census record for Holly Springs, Mississippi that showed Joshua and Nancy and their son, John B. Watson, plus three additional Watson children born after June of 1870. Mary Jane had married James Franklin Willis by that time, but the remaining Buckner children were also there in Holly Springs having been listed by the census enumerator as Rufus Watson, Sarah Watson and Dora Watson, which was why I’d been unable to locate them. I’d been unable to locate Nancy because the enumerator had listed her age as 60 instead of 42.

1880 Census - Joshua & Nancy, Rufus, Sarah, Dora, John, Etta, Walter and Daugherty Watson

With the discovery of a marriage record for William R. Buckner and Martha Ann Holliman for 1892 I was then able to track him to Wise County, Texas in 1910 with two children, Grover C. and Lona Belle.

1910 Census - William R. & Martha A. Buckner with Grover C. and Lona B. Buckner in Wise County, Texas.

So far, the listings for William Rufus had been: William Buckner for the 1860 census; R. Buckner for the 1870 census and Rufus Watson for the 1880 census. The 1910 census was for William R. Buckner with a wife named Martha A. Buckner who had been married 17 years [corresponding to the 1892 marriage record] and had two children. The bad news for that is that it makes the searching more difficult; the good news is I picked up both first and middle names for him in the process.

After many searches, I finally located a 1930 census for Rufus in Oklahoma where he was living with a son I didn’t know about – Vester. This listing was for Rufus R. Buckner. This son’s age would put his birth at about 1888, which was four years before the marriage of Rufus and Martha Ann, which led me to a further search of Fayette County marriages.

1930 Census - Vester Buckner with his family, father-in-law, and father, Rufus R. Buckner in Tillman County, Oklahoma.

I, of course, now had a time frame for the death of Martha Ann – before 1930. I searched for and found an earlier marriage between Rufus Buckner and A. J. Collins that took place in 1883 in Fayette County, Alabama. The fact that Rufus married again by 1892 would indicate A. J. died before that time and that Vester was the child of Rufus and A.J. I found no other records for Vester Buckner. However, by tracking the children in that 1930 record, I found other records that added the initials G. S. to Vester’s name – I thought Vester could be short for Sylvester but I found nothing to support that. With the 1890 census being burned, the 1900 census for Rufus would certainly be a help in adding to what I knew about him.

Last month I found evidence of some Buckner burials in the Frederick Cemetery in Frederick, Oklahoma; unfortunately, when I sought to find them on the transcription of that cemetery, all names from Br to the Cs were missing. I sent an email to the website administrator who said she was a new administrator but would ask the previous administrator. That person looked and was surprised to find my observation to be correct and he supplied me with an Excel spreadsheet of the missing people where I found not only the Buckner people I was looking for, but I found that elusive Rufus Buckner listed as well. Although I didn’t find his wife, Martha, I was a little suspicious that a Mary Ann Buckner who died in 1929 [before the 1930 census] and buried near him might be worth a closer look. My daughter, Kay, and I took a trip to Wise County, Texas and over to Tillman County, Oklahoma in April to see what records and burials we might find. We found the headstone for Rufus to be a double headstone with his wife, Mary Ann – back to that confusing use of nicknames. Apparently any number of females with names beginning with ‘M’ went by Mary, while those whose name was actually Mary often went by Polly or Molly [or Pollie or Mollie].

Rufus and Mary Buckner headstone

Yesterday I decided to return to the Heritage Quest site and search for the first name of William in both Oklahoma and Texas. Obviously there were going to be a lot of Williams in Texas – too many to look at as well as the possibility of having to search for Wm, Rufus or a combination of initials. I set limiters of an age range and being born in Alabama and hoped the census enumerators had been reasonably accurate for a change. I began by selecting Williams who lived in Wise County, Texas and found a William R. Ruckner. I was rewarded with a correct hit on that one. Even though Ancestry.com searches broadly, it would never have tried a substitution of Ruckner for Buckner, even though they rhyme.

This record provided verification that the 1930 census relationship with Vester was a correct one because the 1900 census listed a son born about 1888 – Guy S. Buckner [further research found Guy Sylvester Buckner in the California death index], along with Grover C. and Lone B. Buckner [close enough for the spelling capacity and/or penmanship of the census enumerators]. There was also a bonus of another son I hadn’t yet discovered, John H. Buckner, born about 1884 – a whole new thread to pull.

1900 Census - William R. & Martha A. Ruckner and John H., Guy S., Grover C. and Lone B.

Although that record gave me new information and corroboration, it also created more questions. For example, to the question “Mother of how many children,” Martha Ann answered 5 and noted that all 5 were still living. Based on marriage records, only two of the four listed children should be Martha’s and since the marriage record listed her under her maiden name it is not likely she had three children from a previous marriage who weren’t living with her. On the other hand, since A. J. died when her sons were quite young and Martha would have been their mother for eight years, she may well have responded to the question in terms of caretaking. However, it’s more difficult to wipe away their response as to the length of their marriage – 18 years instead of the 8 expected from their marriage record. Based on what I’ve seen of enumerator’s accuracy in census records, perhaps Martha or Rufus replied eight years to the question, but since the oldest child was sixteen, the enumerator decided he must have not heard the whole answer and filled in logically with eighteen. Fortunately, I have the 1910 census that indicates their marriage was  of 17 years’ duration rather than the 28 I might have expected if I hadn’t had the 1892 marriage record along with the 1910 listing of years of marriage.

After yesterday’s find of the 1900 record I have a new child I was unaware of to research. Additionally, any way I look at it, I’m still missing a fifth child who was alive at least as long as 1900, one most likely born between 1885 and 1891. Fortunately, I really enjoy the hunt itself, so back to work.

Follow Up Buckner nee Foster

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.

Surname Saturday – Buckner nee Foster

Lots of historical happenings can make searching for your ancestors complex and/or difficult. For example, the 1890 census was almost completely lost in a fire; that leaves a twenty-year gap in which the high mortality rates, moving and remarriages often took place, making it harder to find them. Additionally, in Fayette County, Alabama there was also a fire in the County Courthouse following the Civil War that burned most of the marriage, birth, death, probate and land records that were recorded prior to the fire.

My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Willis nee Buckner, is one of those that has been difficult to track. We found a marriage license index that indicates she married J.F. Willis in 1872 in the home of Joshua Watson when she was, according to census records, 16. We found her listed in the 1880 census with her husband and children. The 1890 census was burned and she is missing from the family by 1900, although by the ages of the children living with J.F. we learned she had two more sons in 1881 and 1883.

Her husband, my great-grandfather, was a Baptist minister/preacher and, according to family tradition, they were buried [albeit at divergent times] in the cemetery on the grounds of the church where he pastored and attended at various times over the years – Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. This fact is a little confusing because there is a Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery and an Old Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church Cemetery, both of which have listings of those interred there and my great-grandparents aren’t listed in either one of them. When we visited Fayette County in 2002, a distant cousin and his wife took us to the fenced and locked grounds where the church and cemetery and their graves had been located [there is  currently nothing on that land except the almost buried remains of a razed building and presumably still-buried bodies] and that location is different from the other two still existent cemeteries – in other words, there are no headstones to provide clues.

With no forward clues, the only thing to do was search for backward clues. There is an 1855 Blount County, Alabama marriage license index for a John Buckner marrying Nancy M. Foster. There is also an Internet source document on the Foster family that lists the Nancy M. Foster who married John Buckner as being the daughter of Anthony Edward Foster and Mary King Foster. We found an 1860 census for a John and Nancy Buckner with three children: Mary (4 years old and age appropriate to be my great-grandmother Mary Jane), William (2 years old) and Sarah (4 mos old). Neither John nor Nancy Buckner are listed in the 1870 census. Because of the Civil War, discovering a fighting-age man is missing in the 1870 census would give you the clue to search Civil War documents to see if you find him there. I did find a John Buckner who as a member of the 41st Alabama Calvary Unit was killed in 1863 and whose widow, Mrs. Nancy M. Buckner, filed the necessary documents to receive monetary benefits.

There was an 1866 Fayette County census in which I find a listing for Mrs. Nancy Buckner with four children: one son under ten, two daughters under ten and one daughter over ten. That would match the children’s ages from the 1860 census except that there is another daughter born after the 1860 census.

We found a marriage license indexing that shows Mrs. Nancy Buckner married Joshua Watson in 1868 in a ceremony that, if she is Nancy Foster Buckner, would have been officiated by her sister’s father-in-law. That same 1866 census shows Nancy Buckner living very near Joshua Watson, who was at that time living with his wife and children. Searching earlier census records for 1860 shows Joshua Watson and his wife, Phebe, living in Fayette County relatively near an older John and Rachel Buckner, who were likely John Buckner’s parents – in other words, Nancy likely had known Joshua Watson, who was a contemporary of her father-in-law,  for many years.

The 1870 census supports the fact that Joshua Watson married Nancy Buckner because Joshua and Nancy are together in that census and have a son, John B. Watson, who is one year old. The four Buckner children are living with them, including that under ten daughter born after the 1860 census – Nedora Buckner born in about 1860-61. The information is, as is way too frequently the case, also confusing: the 1870 census most frequently listed initials rather than names and, although the older child has the right initials, M.J. (for Mary Jane), the sex is listed as male and the age is listed as 12 rather than 14. Since the other family information as well as children’s ages and initials match, my assumption is the census enumerator got sidetracked during the recording and made an error.  A local cemetery listing indicates Phebe Watson, Joshua’s wife, died in 1867, which fits in with the time period in which the widower Joshua Watson married his widow neighbor, Nancy Buckner.

A few other details that would support Nancy Buckner being the daughter of Anthony Edward Foster are that following the death of her husband, Nancy was living not only in close proximity to the Watsons, but very near A.E. Foster Sr. and A.E. Foster, Jr – presumably her father and brother. Also, living very near were Mrs. Amy Willis and her young son, James Franklin or J.F.

That brings me full circle back to the license index for MJ Buckner and JF Willis. Additionally, the marriage index clue that the wedding was held in the home of Joshua Watson is another indicator  that M.J. in the 1870 census was likely female, in that her wedding was held in the home of Joshua Watson and presumably hosted by her mother.

The Internet Foster family document listed that Nancy M. Foster Buckner died in 1869. Unfortunately, that information doesn’t fit with her being listed in the 1870 census, which indicates either the death date belongs to another Nancy Buckner or my great-great-grandmother was not Nancy Foster. There is another John and Nancy Buckner that were living in Blount County (who may incidentally have belonged to the Blount County marriage license) and who have a completely different group of children than the Fayette County John and Nancy Buckner. All the Ancestry.com family trees have used this Blount County John and Nancy Buckner and indicate this Nancy died in 1869; John than remarried, had additional children and died in 1876. Obviously, this is not the John Buckner who died in the Civil War nor, by extension, the Nancy M. Buckner who signed off as his widow, remarried and had other children after 1869.

The Blount County connection is not a stretch for the marriage license; Blount County is the next county northeast of Fayette County and is where John and Rachel Buckner, John’s presumed  parents, were living in 1850 although they were in Fayette County in 1860. There are also land records for all the Buckners – John, Sr., John, Jr., Thomas, Levi – in Blount County.

Joshua Watson, who had lived in Tennessee near Memphis at the time of the 1850 census, but had lived in Fayette County for nearly twenty years, moved his family to Marshall County, Mississippi fairly near Memphis by the 1880 census. Although the record for his wife is confusing – her name is Nancy who, if she is Mary Jane’s mother, should be about 42 years old, but who is listed by the enumerator as being 60 years old in the 1880 census – the children’s first names generally match the children living with Joshua Buckner in 1870 (except the census enumerator listed the last names of the Buckner children as Watson). There are, additionally three more Watson children born during the decade that would have, if the age for Nancy is correct, have been born to a woman between 52 and 58 year of age.

Nancy’s second daughter, Sarah, married in 1890 in a ceremony in Fayette County held in the home of Mrs. Nancy Watson and her first son, William R. (for Rufus), married in 1892 in a marriage officiated by his brother-in-law, James Franklin Willis. Her son, John B. Watson, lived the majority of his adult life on a neighboring farm near what were presumably two of his mother’s first husband’s cousins – Ira C. and Charley Marvin Buckner.

Although at this time, I can’t be positive my great-great-grandmother was Nancy M. Foster, there is a large amount of circumstantial evidence that supports that theory. I would love to hear from someone who has photographs and supporting sources to either prove or disprove the direction my research has led me thus far – particularly photographs and the dates and locations for the deaths of my great-grandmother and my great-great-grandmother.