Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bowen-Reid Marriage Record

Yesterday I made a quick trip to the courthouse in neighboring Pontotoc County. At one time, Itawamba and Pontotoc were two large counties and bordered each other, but in 1866, Lee County was formed by taking land from both Itawamba and Pontotoc.

I knew that my time was scarce so I had to prioritize and limit my research. The primary purpose for the visit was to check out a marriage record between Marion Sampson Purnell and Mary Frances "Mollie" Rayburn who were married in Pontotoc County on January 8, 1877. It has long puzzled me how Marion, brother of my GGgrandmother Charlotte Purnell, came to be married in Pontotoc County. He was enumerated as a little boy in my GGGgrandfather's household in the 1860 census in Lamar County, Alabama. In the 1870 census, the family was living in Hardin County, Tennessee, and by 1880 Marion was head of a household that contained both his parents, back in Lamar County, Alabama. How in the world did he get married in Pontotoc County? What was the connection? Maybe information would surface that would provide clues as to the Purnell ancestry which is presently at a brick wall.

Well, the marriage record was not at the courthouse. Apparently only an index survived a fire or storm that destroyed some of the courthouse records during that period of time. I was told that the local library had the original records on microfilm although I'm not sure if that is so and will be a task for another day. But I did get to check some land records and found some chattel deed of trusts that shed some light on the Purnell puzzle.

Apparently, Marion's uncle, Matthew Robert Purnell, lived on land that bounded both Pontotoc and Calhoun counties. I knew that in the 1880 census Matthew R. Purnell was enumerated in Calhoun County, but I didn't realize he lived adjacent to Pontotoc County. In 1877 and 1878, Matthew and his sons executed a deed of trust for $200 in order to make their crops, and secured the debt with their livestock and proceeds from their corn and cotton crops in "Pontotoc and Calhoun" counties. More research is needed, but I suspect that Marion was visiting his Uncle Matthew, possibly working as a farm hand, when he met Mollie Rayburn. It is also possible that his father, Samuel Morris Purnell, moved to Pontotoc or Calhoun counties to be near his brother, between 1870 and 1880. A trip to the Calhoun County courthouse is called for.

Anyway, that's off track from the image you see above. In Marriage Record Book One, I found the marriage record for William Elisha Bowen and Harriet Amandaville Reid, my husband's GGGgrandparents. William and Harriet moved to Itawamba County, near the Mud Creek community in the northwestern part of the county, sometime between 1860 and 1870. The marriage record indicates that William and Harriet were married on May 1, 1859 by H. P. Berry, Justice of the Peace. Their marriage bond was issued on April 28, 1859 and signed for by W. E. Bowen and J. H. Harden.

Not shown here, but in the sidelines of the record page, is written: "State of Mississippi, Pontotoc Co., Ap 24th 1859, Mr. Clerk, sir it is none [known] by these few lines that it agreed to that you should issue marriage lisens for William E. Bowen. [signed] Joseph Reid. It appears as if Joseph Reid went to the courthouse and gave his pre-approval of the marriage a few days before William applied for the license and bond. The court clerk then wrote down the approval in the margins of record book.

Joseph Reid was father of Harriet. He was born in Spartanburg District, South Carolina in 1818 and was married to Delphia Littlejohn, daughter of Ignatious and Mary Littlejohn, also of Spartanburg. William E. Bowen was the son of James D. "Jimmy Dee" Bowen and Elizabeth Carlisle.

Never know what you might find, just in a quick trip!

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