Monday, June 13, 2011

Mystery Monday's Merediths

I have spent years researching my 19th century Meredith in-laws and have had considerable success finding information that has clarified their relationships and cast a bit of light on their lives.

There are some aunts and cousins that are more shadowed - even hints of a bit of scandal. But I've not delved deep into those individuals yet. I hope to find some records this summer in Virginia that will answer some of my questions. But above all I want to find out about my mystery Merediths.

My husband's gg grandmother Margaret Meredith Palmer had three brothers - Thomas James (T.J. or James), Thomas William (Tommie or Thomas), and William Vincent Meredith (don't you just love those names!). I've written about James' untimely death and about William's life as a Redemptorist priest several times. But Thomas has been difficult to decipher.

He was mentioned in the family letters from the Thomas Meredith papers at the Maryland Historical Society. There was no reference to college for him, however, which I found puzzling since so many other nephews and his sister, Margaret, were being educated at Catholic schools by their uncle. His brother (and guardian) James wrote about taking Tommie with him on business trips which suggested he was being groomed to join the family ranks of merchants. Margaret writes about relying on him for advice and assistance following her husband's death in 1847.

The information in the letters is supported by the 1850 census. He appears twice - enumerated as a merchant on July 1st in Lancaster County (VA) with his brother, William, and again in his sister's household in Northumberland County (VA) where he was enumerated as a clerk on November 15th. Also in his sister's household was a young woman, Frances Palmer. I have not been able to identify her relationship to the family.

And then his life becomes much less clear. I have a theory as to what happened, but many, many questions. I posted this query on several message boards in 2007 (no responses to date).
Seeking information on the following persons listed in 1850, 1860, & 1870 Census:

1850 - VA Northumberland, District 7
Frances PALMER 22 female
Thomas MEREDITH 25 male clerk
Both were living in the household of Margaret Meredith Palmer, widow of James Palmer.

1860 - VA Lancaster, Eastern District (Litwalton Post Office)
F M MEREDITH 33 female seamstress & head of household
John MEREDITH 6 male
Caroline MEREDITH 4 female
Nanny L MEREDITH 2 female
Thomas E MEREDITH 1 male
All born in Virginia

1870 - VA Northumberland, Wicomico
John MERRIDETH 16 male working on farm, born in Virginia
He is in household of John Palmer, son of Margaret Meredith & James Palmer. Margaret Palmer is also in household.

MD Baltimore, Ward 10
Carrie MEREDITH 14 female born in Maryland
Nannie MEREDITH 12 female born in Maryland
Both were residents of Saint Mary's Orphan Asylum.
On the face the information suggests Thomas (who with his brother, William, were the only Merediths enumerated in Lancaster and Northumberland Counties in 1850) likely married a woman whose name began with F, had four children and died. Was the woman the Frances Palmer living with his sister in 1850? A memorial on Findagrave shows he died in 1859 and was buried at St. Mary's Whitechapel in Lancaster County. It's fairly tidy.

BUT, why was Thomas left out of his uncle's 1853 will? His uncle left substantial bequests to all of Thomas's siblings and his sister's children. Why was he buried at St. Mary's when there is no record of any other family member being buried there? What happened to F M Meredith and the baby Thomas? Marriage records indicate she remarried. Did the Civil War impact the family? Why were the daughters in an orphanage in Maryland (which was one of the largest beneficiaries of Uncle Thomas's will)? And what happened to the young Merediths in the years that followed?

I hope to get answers to many of my questions when I visit the Library of Virginia and the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library this summer.

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm, that's quite a puzzle, Susan! Sometimes I wonder if our ancestors hid things from us on purpose :-) Hope your research trip brings you lots of answers!


Comments related to the information shared here are most appreciated. All comments are moderated, and since I am not actively researching right now it many take a day or two for your comment to post. Please know that it will post, and that I much appreciate the feedback.